Vapes (also known as e-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes) are battery powered devices that produce a vapour that the user inhales.

If you don’t smoke, don’t vape.

More research is necessary, however vaping has proven to lead to negative health effects, particularly for youth and pregnant women.

If you choose to vape:

  • reduce your risks by vaping only at low temperatures and avoid vaping daily
  • never modify vaping products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
  • do not vape with products bought from an illegal source or products containing THC as these are not subject to any controls or oversight
  • avoid e-juice with nicotine. Those who are vaping nicotine should NOT switch to smoking tobacco products or smoke tobacco products while continuing to vape.
  • know that quitting is always a good option. Many regular tobacco cessation techniques work when you are ready to quit vaping
In the news: Severe Pulmonary Illness

There is an increasing number of cases of severe pulmonary illness related to vaping that is currently under investigation. We recommend that:

  • You refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping products, particularly any products that have been purchased illegally, including any products that contain THC. Cannabis use has risks, some of which remain unknown and can have short-and long-term harms to your health, including dependence.
  • You do not return to smoking tobacco cigarettes if you are using vaping products containing nicotine as a means of quitting cigarette smoking. Instead, make a quit plan and don’t quit quitting!
  • You let a health care provider know about your vaping history, particularly if you experience any of the following symptoms of pulmonary illness:
    • coughing
    • shortness of breath
    • chest pain

For more information on Severe Pulmonary Illness please read this release from Health Canada.

How does vaping work?

Vapes allow users to inhale the aerosol or vapour of liquids and come in different designs. 

The liquid used in vapes is called E-juice and is kept in a cartridge, tank or pod. The main ingredients in E-juice are glycol or glycerin, water and flavourings. There can be many other chemicals in E-juice and some of them may be harmful.

E-juice can be made with or without nicotine.

The long-term effects of inhaling the chemicals found in E-juice have not been well studied.

For more information on how vaping works, see the mechanics of vaping infographic

Where can you vape?

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) 2017 protects people from exposure to second-hand smoke and vapour and discourages young people from starting to smoke or vape.

For more information on where you can or cannot smoke, view our tobacco and vaping enforcement page.

Health effects of vaping

Vaping is not harmless. While vaping is likely less harmful to your health when compared to smoking cigarettes, using E-juices may expose you to harmful chemicals, harm your airways and lungs and lead to nicotine addiction. 

Video: E-Cigarettes – To Vape or Not to Vape?

Short term effects of vaping:

  • light-headedness
  • throat irritation
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • coughing

Health effects of vaping nicotine: 

  • highly addictive
  • can harm the adolescent brain

Learn more about the risks of vaping

The long-term effects of inhaling the chemicals found in E-juice and second-hand vapour have not been well studied and need more research.

 E-juice poisoning

Some vaping liquid containers have enough nicotine to be poisonous, particularly to young children.

  • E-juice containing nicotine may be poisonous if swallowed or absorbed through the skin
  • When swallowed, nicotine is extremely toxic and can be fatal
  • E-juice containing nicotine needs to be safely stored away from young children who may accidently swallow the nicotine

To report a poisoning or for information call the Ontario Poison Centre at 1-800-268-9017

Quitting smoking 

More research is needed to know whether or not vapes help people to quit smoking tobacco.

People who want to quit smoking should use products that we know work such as:

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapies: nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler and mouth spray.
  • Prescription medications (Zyban, Champix)
  • Cytisine

For more information, see Tobacco.

Information for parents, caregivers and educators

Signs that youth are vaping


  • You may find devices, E-juice bottles, pods or cartridges (that contain E-juice) or product packaging.
  • Aside from leaf cannabis, jars that contain cannabis concentrates, small tools to scoop the concentrates and cartridges that contain cannabis oil are signs of vaping cannabis.


  • Be on the lookout for purchases made online and charged to your credit card or unusual packages that arrive in the mail. Youth may also buy them at convenience stores, gas stations or from friends.


  • While the smell from vaping is faint, you may notice the scent of the flavouring where there appears to be no other source

Increased thirst and nose bleeds

  • Some of the chemicals used in E-juices have the effect of drying out the mouth and nasal passages. As a result, some youth drink more liquids or seem more prone to nose bleeds.

Decreased caffeine use

  • Some youth develop a sensitivity to caffeine. If your child drank caffeinated energy drinks and quits, it may be as a result of vaping.

Vaping lingo

  • You may see vape lingo in text messages such as “atty” for an atomizer, “VG” for vegetable glycerin found in E-juice or “sauce” referring to E-juice, "JUULing" referring to vaping

Social Media

  • Youth may brag about their vaping on social media. Look for pictures on Instagram or YouTube or check their Twitter accounts.

Appearance and behaviour changes

  • Just like smoking cannabis, vaping cannabis can result in bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and thirst, increased appetite and changes in behaviour and mood.
  • Sometimes, there is a noticeable change in friends and a decrease in activities that they once enjoyed.

Withdrawal symptoms

  • If youth become addicted to nicotine, and are without nicotine for more than a few hours they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, cravings, headaches, and fatigue
  • Youth may continue to use nicotine products to avoid feeling this way.
  • Symptoms go away when youth either use products containing nicotine OR two to four weeks after youth quit or reduce their use of nicotine

Parents, caregivers and educators play an significant role in a child’s life. Being open and talking often about vaping will help youth make better informed decisions.

Parents and caregivers


As an educator it is important to know about the types of vape products, the health effects and what supports are available to students.

Below are educator resources that can be used to support students in the classroom:

Related pages

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