The Board of health in Toronto considers imposing a ban on electronic smoking devises August 13, 2014 12:06

The Medical Officer at the Board of Health in Toronto recommends a ban on electronic cigarettes in the areas in which smoking is prohibited in the city if Queens Park fails to impose province-wide restriction by February next year. According to the report, a review of the evidence is available as regards the use of e-cigarettes; their health effects; safety and potential as an aid to quit smoking, and the response of the government in various jurisdictions revealed several concerns. This included initiation of youth into smoking and the potential of the smoking habit becoming normal and undermining the existing legislation on tobacco control.

The Medical Officer of Health in the city Dr. David McKeown is therefore recommending an amendment to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act incorporate a ban on e-cigarettes at places where smoking is prohibited in Ontario. If the authorities of the province fail to take action by February 2015, the Medical Officer of Health will consult with the city solicitor, other divisions of the city, and stakeholders, and report to the Board of Health on the measures taken by the municipality for prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in areas where smoking is banned as per the city by-laws or Smoke-Free Ontario Act.

During this time, the medical officer will also work with the city manager and explore the possibility of developing an internal policy to ban the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces in the city.

Meanwhile, many electronic cigarettes users said that they understand the concerns raised by McKeowns, but they wanted policy makers to understand that e-cigarettes are harmless.

One e-cigarette user said that these devices produce the same vapor as that of the smoke machines used in clubs. He also said, “I know it is healthy because it does not release toxins into the air like tobacco cigarettes”. However, Health Canada refuses to approve the import or sale of devices or e-liquids that contain nicotine.

E-cigarettes are widely available despite Health Canada’s directives as the sale of e-cigarettes without nicotine content is not regulated. McKeown also recommends that the board take up the matter with the federal government and amend the legislation in order to regulate e-cigarettes in a better manner.

E-cigarettes when used along with e-liquids that contain nicotine produce water and propylene glycol (a constituent in e-liquids) vapors and not smoke. Further, many experts are of the opinion that e-cigarettes are much safer than their tobacco counterparts.

According to Samantha Grant, spokeswoman of the Health Minister of the province Eric Hoskins, the ministry is monitoring the use of e-cigarettes vis-à-vis emerging research. The ministry has also requested Ottawa to actively regulate e-cigarettes.

The Board of Health’s report also points out that the municipalities across Ontario have been pushing the provincial as well as the federal governments for regulating the manufacture, promotion, sale and display of e-smoking devices.

Actions have been initiated at many places in Canada to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes. This includes Red Deer and Alta. Peel region has banned e-cigarettes smoking in workplaces and York Region school boards has banned its use as well. The Toronto Transit Commission Board is also expected to amend their smoking bylaw in order to prohibit use of e-cigarettes on TTC property by fall this year, according to the report.