E-Cigarettes Fact Sheet

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What is an e-cigarette?

An e-cigarette is a battery-operated device that changes a liquid chemical (e-juice) into a vapour that can be inhaled. This is often called vaping. E-cigarettes are also known as e-cigs, e-hookahs, vapes, vape pens, mods, and tank systems. E-cigarette products can also be used to deliver marijuana and other illicit drugs.

E-juice contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavouring, other additives, and sometimes nicotine.

Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain other harmful ingredients, including:

  • Tiny particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs,
  • Diacetyl, a flavouring chemical that is safe to eat but that can cause permanent lung damage when inhaled (commonly called “popcorn lung”),
  • Benzene and heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead.

How common are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarette use among youth and young adults is increasing. In Ontario, 11% of youth in grades 7-12 report using e-cigarettes in the past year (OSDUHS, 2017).

According to the 2017-18 WDG Youth Survey, 20% of grade 7 and 10 students in Wellington-Dufferin- Guelph reported using an e-cigarette in the past 12 months. Grade 10 students were much more likely to report using an e-cigarette (39%) than grade 7 students (4%).

E-cigarettes are marketed to youth by promoting fruit and candy e-juice flavours and colourful design and packaging.

The introduction and promotion of JUUL into the Canadian market, a popular vaping device among youth in the United States that looks like a USB, is a concern for schools. JUUL contains high levels of nicotine (1 pod = nicotine content of one cigarette pack), and the size/look of the device can easily be used and hidden in classrooms, as they emit little vapour.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

There is limited research on the safety and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes and exposure to second-hand vapour. Researchers agree that because there is no combustion, vaping is likely far less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes. Second-hand exposure to e-cigarette vapour is also less harmful than exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, but more research is needed to determine safe levels of exposure.

E-cigarettes containing nicotine are unsafe for youth because the brain is still developing, making youth more vulnerable to nicotine addiction. Nicotine use at a young age can make it harder to learn, concentrate or control impulses. Research shows that youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes.

Can e-cigarettes help you quit smoking?

E-cigarettes are not proven to help people quit smoking. Current research shows that most smokers who try e-cigarettes do not quit smoking. They are more likely to co-use e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes or to switch to e-cigarettes for a short period and then go back to smoking tobacco cigarettes. If you don’t smoke, don’t vape.

Are e-cigarettes legal?

In Canada:

The Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA) was enacted on May 23, 2018 to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco and vaping products sold in Canada.

Under the TVPA, the sale of e-juice containing nicotine is now legal in Canada.

In Ontario:

On October 17, 2018, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA, 2017) took effect.

Under the SFOA, 2017, the smoking of tobacco, use of an e-cigarette and the smoking/vaping of cannabis is prohibited in many areas. Some examples of where use is prohibited include:

  • Enclosed public places;
  • Enclosed workplaces;
  • Primary and secondary schools and their grounds; and
  • Public areas within 20m from the perimeter of the grounds of primary and secondary schools.

Under the SFOA, 2017, the sale and supply of e-cigarettes to anyone under 19 is prohibited.

What is the school board’s policy on e-cigarettes?

It is the policy of the Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board to provide a smoke-free environment for its students, staff and others while on School Board property. E-cigarettes are included in this policy.

This information has been adapted with permission from Niagara Region Public Health.