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Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices designed to act like regular cigarettes, but without tobacco and combustion. Globally, and here in Ontario, e-cigarette use is becoming increasingly popular with teens and young adults, as well as among smokers trying to quit.

Some studies suggest that e-cigarettes may be used as a tool to help smokers to reduce their tobacco use. Other studies suggest that
e-cigarettes may lead to teens and young adults becoming addicted to nicotine and to become smokers. More research is required to determine the health effects and/or benefits of using e-cigarettes

Learn more about e-cigarettes or download the Fact Sheet (PDF file)

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Electronic Cigarette FAQs

Did you know?

E-cigarettes are known by a variety of names including:

  • vapes or vape pipes
  • personal vapourizers
  • e-cigs, e-cigars
  • e-smokes
  • e-hookah, hookah pens
  • steam cigarettes
  • tanks
  • pens
  • personal inhalers
  • pipes


What is an electronic cigarette?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery operated devices designed to deliver a liquid mix of chemical ingredients to users as vapour instead of smoke. E-cigarettes provide users with the same physical sensation as smoking a regular cigarette, but without tobacco and combustion.

E-cigarettes come in many different shapes and sizes, and since they are customizable, may or may not contain nicotine. A common term that refers to the act of using an electronic cigarette is “vaping.”

What are the public health concerns with e-cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes have unknown health risks
    While e-cigarettes may be less harmful than regular cigarettes,the health effects related to the use and/or exposure to the second-hand vapours remains unknown. Individuals have reported experiencing side effects from e-cigarette use and exposure, including severe coughing, nausea, and headaches. A major component of e-cigarettes is propylene glycol - a known lung irritant when inhaled. Due to the evolving nature of these products, more research is required to better understand the health risks versus benefits of e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes may be a gateway to addiction
    E-cigarette products are attractive to teens and young adults. These products may be a gateway to nicotine addiction and future smoking and experimentation with regular cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products and substances. In Canada, 20% of youth aged 15 to 24 have reported using an e-cigarette.
  • E-cigarettes are an unproven quit-smoking aid
    E-cigarettes are unproven as quit-smoking aids in Canada. Research results are unclear, suggesting that e-cigarettes may or may not be effective in helping people to quit smoking. Individuals who are trying to quit smoking should speak to their health care provider about using e-cigarettes or other quit-smoking aids.

Can all e-cigarettes be sold in Canada?

The e-cigarette industry is unregulated in Canada and products have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada. Only e-cigarettes that do not make health claims and do not contain nicotine may be sold in Canada. Any products containing nicotine are in violation of the federal Food and Drugs Act. A Health Canada Advisory (external link) warns Canadians to avoid the use and purchase of e-cigarettes.

What is being done about e-cigarettes in Ontario?

The Electronic Cigarettes Act was passed on May 28, 2015, and came into effect on January 1, 2016. The legislation bans the sale and supply to anyone under the age of 19.

Halton Region Health Department is responsible for enforcing the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and Electronic Cigarettes Act.