Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Learning About Vaping
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Learning About Vaping

Assorted vaping devices

What is it?

Vaping is using a battery-powered device to inhale liquid nicotine or other substances. The devices can look like everyday items such as pens, cigarettes, or USB flash drives.

Instead of tobacco, they use a blend of liquid nicotine, flavours, and other chemicals. This is called vaping liquid. It comes in different nicotine strengths. THC can also be used. THC is a chemical in cannabis (marijuana).

Vapes are also called:

  • E-cigarettes.
  • Vape pens.
  • Juuls.

How do vapes work?

Vapes make an aerosol cloud by heating vaping liquid or THC. You breathe in through the mouthpiece. This turns on the battery, which powers the heating element. This turns vaping liquid or THC into tiny particles suspended in gas, called an aerosol.

What are the safety concerns?

More research is needed before experts can tell if vaping is safe. The long-term health effects aren't known. Here's what experts are learning about vaping.

It's not harmless water vapour.
The "vapour" made by vaping isn't a vapour at all. It's an aerosol cloud made of chemicals suspended in a gas. This vape aerosol contains chemicals known to be harmful.
It likely has nicotine, even if the packaging doesn't list it.
Nicotine is addictive. It's harmful to developing brains, such as in unborn babies, children, and young adults up to age 25. Youth and young adults are also more likely to get addicted to nicotine, compared to older adults. Liquid nicotine can be lethal if swallowed. Keep it out of children's reach.
It may cause a deadly lung disease.
There have been outbreaks of lung disease and death related to vaping. Some sources call it vaping-related lung injury. Many of these may be from vaping products with THC. The flavours added to vaping products may also cause lung problems. But the exact cause of lung problems isn't known.

How well does it work to help people stop smoking?

More research is needed to know how well vaping works to help people stop smoking. Some people try to quit smoking by reducing the amount of nicotine they vape. They do this slowly over time. If you're thinking of using vaping to help you stop smoking, talk to your doctor first. Here are some other things to think about.

Vaping may be less harmful than smoking tobacco.
More research is needed, but vaping may have fewer harmful chemicals than smoking. And switching to vaping only, instead of smoking cigarettes, may have short-term health benefits.
Many people use both when trying to quit.
This is called dual use. Some people may choose to vape and use cigarettes for a short time while they are trying to quit.
Vaping may help people be more successful at quitting.
More research is needed, but people who use vaping to quit smoking may be more successful with their quit attempt.

If you are vaping to quit smoking, it’s best to have a plan to also quit vaping. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit smoking or vaping. This may include:

  • Counselling.
  • Over-the-counter products approved by Health Canada, like nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, or an inhaler.
  • Prescription medicines.

Over-the-counter products and prescription medicines to help you stop smoking are safe. Research shows they can help people stop smoking and using tobacco products, or use them less.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter C351 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Vaping".

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.