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Is Shisha Illegal In Canada?

by Oxide Hookah 19 Feb 2020 1 comment
Is Shisha Illegal In Canada?

The Legal Situation For Hookah Shisha in Canada

Do you guys sell shisha tobacco? We get asked this question several times throughout the day. Whether it be over the phone, via email, heck even over text & social media, the question is repeated daily. After a while this question has just become the norm for us. Simple answer is no, we do not sell shisha tobacco. There are a couple of reasons why we don't do it and the reasons are tied directly to what the government states as laws and bans on certain hookah products such as tobacco flavours.

Is Hookah Tobacco Illegal In Canada?

No. Hookah tobacco is not an illegal product in Canada, however flavoured tobacco is banned in some provinces in which hookah tobacco might fall under. Each province or territory in Canada has its very own smoking laws & restrictions on flavoured tobacco that vary from coast to coast. That being said, hookah tobacco is not a fully banned or illegal product but restrictions will apply based on what the provincial laws state throughout the country. Here in Alberta where Oxide Hookah headquarters is based out of, flavoured hookah tobacco is not illegal or banned but is rather exempt from the flavour ban law as stated in section 10.2 in the Alberta Tobacco & smoking reduction regulation. Anything other than pipe tobacco (hookah tobacco is pipe tobacco)  or a large cigar (retails $4 or more and weighs greater than 5 grams) that contains flavour is banned in Alberta. Cherry Swisher Sweets and grape Prime Times are now a extinct in this province.

Why Is It Hard To Find Shisha in Canada?

Good question! Its hard to find or purchase shisha in Canada for various reasons. The government has taken a real strong stance on stabilizing the health of its citizens by smoke reduction and has taken multiple precautions by implementing a whole bunch of laws to make it difficult throughout the country to purchase shisha flavours. Below are a list of the laws that Canada and its provinces have implemented to tobacco reduction acts

Tobacco Laws in Canada

    1. Shipping tobacco products for retail is illegal in Canada
    2. Tobacco taxes are high on manufactured tobacco products (41.25 cents per gram)
    3. Flavour bans in some provinces prohibit all flavoured tobacco products including shisha
    4. Importing hookah tobacco into Canada is difficult due to licensing, duty fees and restrictions for owning over 1 Kilogram at a time.

Shisha Bar Bans

Provincial governments in Canada have for the longest time exempted hookah bars & shisha lounges from the tobacco act regulation which prohibits smoking in public areas. However, recently provincial & municipal governments have started to take matters into their own hands by implementing bans on shisha establishments. With the government of Ontario leading the race by banning hookah bars & establishments using hookah pipes in all of its major cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton & Mississauga, other provinces have now followed and have started to implement bans on shisha bars. In Alberta, Edmonton has already banned shisha bars & Calgary is next on the list as municipal legislations have already started discussion on how this will affect local business and a to where this regulation will lead to. However there has been reasoning behind the implementation of the hookah lounge bans due to the lack of organization in some of these establishments. Below are a few reasons why hookah lounges are being shut down.

Shisha Ban Reasoning

  1. Establishments allowing in individuals without age verification
  2. Provincial health ventilation bylaws not being met
  3. The use of shisha tobacco rather than herbal molasses
  4. Tax evasion 
  5. The use of harmful / untested products for serving consumers

Why Are Hookah Lounges Not Banned?

The reasoning behind why hookah lounges are not banned is that it is a cultural tradition of the middle eastern population living in Canada. Taking away someones rights within Canada to practice their culture is a big no no here in the Great North. Hookah lounges were built on the concept of socializing and bringing people together and has since then grown and has been used in multiple establishments including bars & restaurants.

How Can I Purchase Shisha Tobacco Online in Canada?

Currently there are no legitimate options to purchasing hookah tobacco online in Canada due to laws and regulations within the country. The only alternative would be to travel to the USA and bring back your legal customs amount limited to 200 grams of tobacco after you have reached the requirement minimum time outside of the country.

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1 comment

18 Oct 2023 John

Apparently the statement
“Taking away someones rights within Canada to practice their culture is a big no no here in the Great North”
is not true anymore, unfortunately.

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