Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes)

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is concerned with the lack of research, regulation and quality control of how e-cigarettes are manufactured, marketed and used, especially the marketing and availability towards youth. OPH is continuing to monitor and review all the scientific research, along with best practices by leading public health agencies including the World Health Organization, regarding e-cigarettes. OPH is conducting an environmental scan in various jurisdictions, where policies on e-cigarettes have been implemented to help inform policy and programming in Ottawa.

What is an electronic cigarette?

  • Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are designed to mimic the appearance of cigarettes without the tobacco. They are battery-powered devices that vaporise the liquid contents of a cartridge. The vapour is then inhaled by the user.
  • The liquid is referred to as e-liquid. Companies produce e-liquids with and without nicotine. E-liquids also come in many different flavours.
  • Propylene glycol (PG) is one of the main ingredients found in e-liquids. PG is a known irritant when inhaled.

  What is the legal status of electronic cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes that have nicotine or make a health claim have not been approved for sale in Canada, and are therefore illegal. People can report the sale of these products to Health Canada at 1-800-267-9675.
  • E-cigarettes without nicotine, and making no health claim, can be sold.
  • The Ontario Government introduced new legislation called the Electronic Cigarettes Act. Effective January 1, 2016, it is illegal to sell or supply electronic cigarettes and component parts (e.g. battery, atomizer) to anyone under 19 years of age. 

  Are there health risks from using electronic cigarettes?

  • Health Canada warns people not to buy or use e-cigarettes as they may cause health risks. E-cigarettes have not been fully tested for safety.
  • People in search of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) should use products that have been proven safe and effective. These products include the nicotine inhaler, patch, lozenge and gum.
  • E-cigarettes, including their nicotine cartridges, must be kept out of the reach of children at all times, given the risk of choking or nicotine poisoning.
  • There are no long term studies on the health effects of using e-cigarettes.
  • Ottawa Public Health recommends that e-cigarettes not be used in enclosed spaces due to possible health risks associated with second-hand vapors.

 For more information:

Ottawa Public Health offers many services to help people quit smoking. For more information about quit smoking programs, call the Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744, by email at healthsante@ottawa.ca or by visiting ottawa.ca/quitsmoking