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Alcohol, tobacco, and other substances

How vaping, tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, and opioids affect your health.

Substances may be used for a variety of different reasons, including medical purposes, religious or ceremonial purposes, personal enjoyment, or to cope with stress or trauma.

Learn more about substance use:

More information

Canada's guidance on alcohol and health – provides people living in Canada with the information they need to make well-informed and responsible decisions about their alcohol consumption. This guidance developed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse was a project funded by Health Canada to update Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking.

Alcohol use and safe drinking – How to moderate alcohol consumption and reduce its immediate and long-term risks.

Tobacco is a plant that contains nicotine, which is an addictive drug. Tobacco can be consumed in different ways, for example, it can be smoked in tobacco cigarettes, smoked in loose form in hookahs, chewed, sniffed, and mixed with cannabis. Tobacco is legal in Canada, where it's distribution, manufacturing and marketing is controlled by government laws and regulations.

Learn more about tobacco and smoking:

Cannabis, also called marijuana, weed and pot, is a drug that comes from a plant. In October 2018, Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use and in October 2019, Canada legalized the production and sale of cannabis edibles, topicals and extracts.

Learn more about cannabis:

Vaping is inhaling an aerosol created by an electronic cigarette or other vaping device. These devices have cartridges filled with a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and chemicals. The liquid is heated into an aerosol, which the person inhales. Dried or liquid cannabis can also be vaped.

Risks of vaping

Health Canada has issued a warning for the public about the potential potential risk of pulmonary illness associated with vaping products. The warning states that:

  • Non-smokers, pregnant women, and youth should not vape.
  • If you do vape, avoid illegal or unregulated sources.
  • For those who vape, monitor yourself for symptoms of pulmonary illness like cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. See medical attention immediately if you develop symptoms.

Vaping to help stop smoking

There isn't enough evidence to support the use of e-cigarettes as a stop smoking aid.

Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not approved vaping devices and products to be used as a stop smoking aid.

Current recommendations for quitting smoking include nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications, along with behavioural support and counselling.

Learn more about vaping:

The issue of drug toxicity and overdose is most often associated with opioid use. Opioids are drugs used to treat pain. Not all opioids are harmful and can be prescribed by doctors. However, when drugs contain toxic substances, they can be harmful. Learn more about opioids.

All levels of government and local community organizations are part of ongoing efforts to save lives and reduce harms from opioids. In Peel, our local response includes the Peel Opioid Strategy which focuses on prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement and justice.

Learn how we’re working to address the opioid issue in Peel.