The Inconvenient Truth Of Vapes and Teens

At a bricks-and-mortar middle school in the peaceful region of East York, kids from all grades play basketball on the school court. One kid, in particular, star player Derek, sighs as he takes a well-deserved break on a bench. While he takes in the view of the sun hovering over the field, something enters his mouth. Mango-flavoured clouds fill up his lungs, causing him to cough rapidly. Confused, he frantically looks around him when his eyes meet a classmate’s. “Feels good, right?”

     Something like that happened to my friend, and It’s unacceptable. I’ve only heard stories of vape use in high school. But, in middle school? 

     The school that I went to is not substandard, but vapes are still being found and used there. Why? The answer lies in leniency from vape stores, and we need to stop it.

     In the years 2017 to 2019, PhD professor David Hammond discovered that the number of teens who vaped more than doubled. He cites that Juuls, a type of vape, caused the spike. Speaking from my experience in middle school, this is true. The teens and pre-teens that vaped at my school used Juuls, which happened to be the most advertised at vape stores in our neighbourhood. The usage of Juuls is so heavy that every day after class ends, I see empty Juul containers scattered on the outskirts of the school. The correlation between vape stores and the usage of Juuls at my school isn’t just a coincidence; some of these stores are purposefully selling vapes to teens.

     Have you ever noticed the glaring ads for flavoured vapes while going to a convenience store? So do health professionals studying tobacco and vaping.

    An interview with MD Ben Hoffman and PhD David Hammond revealed their thoughts on the topic. Both Hoffman and Hammond believe that advertising techniques targeting adolescents used in the 1950s for cigarettes are now being used by vaping companies. These techniques included using attractive models and celebrities, colourful ads, and advertising kid-friendlier substances.  However, a factor that wasn’t present in the 1950s and 1960s is pushing more and more teens to buy vapes, social media. Numerous influencers are being paid to promote vapes using vibrant colours and appealing looks in their posts. These advertisement schemes have one goal, getting teens to buy vapes. Sadly, laws to ban these advertisements may require years to process despite vapes being unsafe for teens. But what we can do is stay aware of stores that sell vapes to teens and report them.

     But are vape shops actually where teens get their vapes? Aren’t vape shops rejecting minors? Legally, yes. According to a study conducted by David Braak, Michael Cummings, Georges J Nanhas, Jessica L Reid, and David Hammond, 68.7 percent of vape stores refused adolescents, and the primary source where adolescents received vaping products were from vape stores. While that 68.7 percent seems high, it doesn’t fully convey the truth. 

     An experiment conducted by CBC in Calgary involved adolescents purchasing vapes from vape shops. These teens were able to buy vapes from five out of the total 16 shops they went to, four of which had a reputation for being lenient. One of my friends, who doesn’t even vape, told me exactly where to buy them, which I later found out that the store was where every kid got their vapes, not just from my school. That’s the power of having a reputation; teens in the neighbourhood will know exactly where to go. So, as long as there are a couple of stores that sell vapes to adolescents, adolescents will have the ability to purchase them.

     Vape stores are too lenient. The advertisements that they display target adolescents through colourful ads, kid-friendly flavours, and hip models. Moreover, some stores are outright allowing adolescents to purchase vapes, gaining a reputation doing so. Allowing these stores to continue doing this is irresponsible and a blemish, smearing the image of Canada, Toronto, and your neighbourhood. 

     We cannot allow this; we need to act. Parents, watch your kids, prevent them from vaping. If they are vaping, find out which store is selling them to adolescents, and report them. Childrenless adults, this may not directly pertain to you, but as a member of your community, don’t you want to help the next generation? If you do, be on the lookout for stores and adolescents. Report any suspicious stores you find and try to inform the parents of vaping adolescents. We need to stop this vaping epidemic, and the only way is through you. 


  1. Adam Miller, “Vaping among Canadian Teens Doubles in 2 Years, New Research Shows | CBC News,” CBCnews (CBC/Radio Canada, May 5, 2020),
  2. Serena Gordon, “Ad Displays in Stores Boost Teen Vaping Rates: Canadian Study,” HealthDay (Consumer Health News | HealthDay, October 27, 2020),
  3. Carly Weeks, “How the Vaping Industry Is Targeting Teens – and Getting Away with It,” The Globe and Mail, November 16, 2019,
  4. CDC, “Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 7, 2021),
  5. Tracy Johnson and Helen Pike, “No ID Required: Vape Products Easy to Buy for Calgary Youth | CBC News,” CBCnews (CBC/Radio Canada, June 27, 2019),
  6. David Braaka, K. Michael Cummings, Georges J. Nahhasc , Jessica L. Reidd , David Hammond, “How are adolescents getting their vaping products? Findings from the international tobacco control (ITC) youth tobacco and vaping survey” Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States b Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States c Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States d School of Public Health & Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada | (2020),
  7. Shannon Martin, “It’s Illegal for Anyone under 19 in Ontario to Buy Vaping Products, so Why Are so Many Able to? | CBC News,” CBCnews (CBC/Radio Canada, September 3, 2019),,