Vaping & Hookah


Vaping products are battery-operated devices that heat an e-liquid or e-juice. The heated e-liquid creates an aerosol that is inhaled.  E-liquids are available in different flavours mixed in a glycerol and propylene glycol solution that contain varying levels of nicotine.  Vaping is less harmful than smoking. But there are health risks.  If you are concerned about your health after using a vaping product, contact your health care provider.

Click here for information on Hookah.

Health Effects

There are health risks when people use vaping products.  When vapour is produced, it is condensed into an aerosol. The aerosol is a mixture of chemicals and small particles that can hurt the lungs.  The long-term safety of inhaling e-liquids is unknown and continues to be studied. 

Swallowing e-liquid nicotine or contact with eyes or skin can also cause harm. 

Vaping can be addictive.

The majority of vaping products contain nicotine.  Some products contain nicotine ‘salts’ that do not cause the throat irritation that is typical when inhaling high levels of nicotine.  This may mean you are consuming more nicotine than intended.

Persons who do not smoke are at risk of nicotine addiction if they use vaping products. Young people are also more likely to start smoking cigarettes.  Ottawa Public Health encourages parents and guardians to have conversations with their teenagers regarding the risks of using vaping products.  For more information on how to talk to your child about vaping, go to Parenting in Ottawa website.

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How to Reduce Your Risk

Vaping products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, and adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

Avoid using any vaping products from illegal or unregulated sources. These products are not subject to controls or oversight with respect to safety or quality.

If you are an adult who is vaping to quit smoking, do not go back to using cigarettes.

Do not modify vaping products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.

Monitor yourself for symptoms of lung (pulmonary) illness such as cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. Seek medical attention right away if you have concerns about your health. Be sure to indicate to your health care professional that you currently vape, or have in the past, and what you were vaping. 

Stay up to date by connecting with Health Canada

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Vaping Products and Quitting Smoking

The evidence about e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid is limited.

Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments such as nicotine replacement therapy. These products include the nicotine inhaler, patch, lozenge and gum.

No vapour product has been licensed by Health Canada to treat nicotine dependence.

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Where to go for Help

If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, seek help from:

  • Your health care provider
  • A Family Health Team (FHT) or Community Health Centre (CHC) within your catchment area
  • Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000

Click here for more services.

Learn more about local mental health and substance use health services.

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The Mechanics of Vaping

Vaping products have many names such as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), vapes, vape pens, mods, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).  Click here to learn about the Mechanics of Vaping. 

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Legal Status of Vaping

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA) prohibits vaping in enclosed public places and workplaces and in other areas where tobacco smoking is already banned. The fine for vaping in a prohibited area is $305.

The sale or supply of vapour products to youth under the age of 19 is prohibited in Ontario. The fine for supplying a vapour product is $490.

The federal Tobacco and Vaping Products Act regulates the making, sale, labelling and promotion of vaping products in Canada.

Cannabis products intended for vaping are available from authorized Ontario retailers for adults aged 19 or older. Click here for more information on cannabis.

Click here for more information on where to obtain cannabis from legal sources

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All hookah smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals and toxins, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and tar.

What is hookah smoking?

The hookah, also known as a water-pipe or shisha, is a device used to smoke tobacco product and herbal product that is specially made with molasses and flavouring. 

Why should I be concerned?

Hookah smoking carries many health risks and is gaining popularity among young adults due to the variety of flavoured product and the misperception that it is a "healthier" alternative to cigarette smoking.

Who's using the hookah?

Ottawa data collected in 2014 shows that approximately 14% of people over the age of 18 in Ottawa have used a hookah at some point in their life, with nearly 50% of those aged 18 to 24 reporting that they have tried a hookah. 

Since 2006, hookah use among the Ontario population aged 18 and up has tripled from 3% to 10% in 2012.  

Why is hookah smoking dangerous to my health?

It can be addictive. The tobacco used in a hookah contains nicotine, the same highly addictive drug found in cigarettes.

Chemicals are absorbed into your body. The smoke from a hookah pipe contains chemicals and toxins including carbon monoxide, carcinogens, heavy metals and tar. The water in a hookah pipe does not act as a filter.

There are health risks.  Hookah smoking is associated with a number of poor health outcomes including lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight, carbon monoxide poisoning, adverse cardiac events and periodontal disease. 

You can catch an infectious disease.  There is a risk of contracting viruses and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, herpes, influenza, and oral disease from sharing the hose or mouthpiece of a hookah pipe.  The use of a disposable tip does not prevent the transmission of contagious diseases.

It produces second-hand smoke.  A recent study conducted by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit showed that the air quality in hookah bars tested in Toronto was unhealthy and potentially hazardous.

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