As the United States talks about banning e-cigarettes, Waterloo Region Public Health has made a warning to the public about vaping.

Karen Haughley, a public health nurse for the region’s tobacco and cannabis programs, says there is a misconception about its safety.

“Vaping is not harmless,” she said. “It certainly has many health effects, and we know that youth are increasing the rates of vaping use.”

In the U.S., six deaths are being investigated and more than 400 possibly vaping-related illnesses have been reported.

The U.S. government has said they are considering a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes.

Jason Smeall says he started vaping in January as part of a plan to quit smoking cigarettes.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say that vaping is the problem,” said Smeall. “The problem is these kids are getting access to things that they shouldn’t just in the same way that buying cigarettes or alcohol would be.”

He adds that he plans to quit vaping as well.

“I plan on not doing it at all,” said Smeall. “To me it’s a stepping stone to move off of smoking cigarettes and the dependency of it.”

Management at Ponyboy Vapes in Waterloo says the store is meant for one thing: getting people off cigarettes and then off vaping.

“We have devices and liquids that are used for nicotine replacement therapy,” said owner Jason Vickers. “That’s what we recommend it for: just getting off of cigarettes.”

Vickers argues it’s the illegal vendors that are behind the problem.

“It’s black market THC cartridges,” he said. “There’s additives added into those.”

Haughley adds that vaping is, in fact, less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

“You can consider using the vaping products, but again, we have limited information on the effectiveness of those,” she said.

Public Health for the region says they are working with school boards and post-secondary institutions to teach teens and young adults about the risks of vaping.