It's official – Ontario has introduced sweeping new legislation that restricts who can buy and where they can vape electronic cigarettes – Bill 45. Brought to you by Liberal member the Hon. Dipika Damerla, Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Long-Term Care and Wellness), this bill has received Royal Assent and will kick in January 1, 2016.
Bill 45 treats e-cigs the same as tobacco cigarettes, bans the sale of flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes, imposes a total ban on e-cigarette sales to youth under the age of 19, and bans their use in restaurants and public places.
Damerla said, "The evidence shows if young kids see people smoking or vaping, they are likely to take up smoking or vaping."
"Until we have the evidence as to how bad or what the evidence is on electronic cigarettes, all we're saying is let's not get our kids started on this," she added. "Even though e-cigarettes do not produce second-hand smoke, they still send the wrong message to teens." Damerla claims the restaurant and hotel industries asked for regulations on e-cigarettes so they don't have to argue with customers who aren't clear on the rules, and noted about 43 American states and the province of Nova Scotia have already regulated e-cigarettes in some way.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says more research is needed before completely banning e-cigarettes, so if we are to assume that the Wynne government is now conducting such research, we're probably safe in wondering if a ban on e-cigarettes can't be far behind.
NDP health critic France Gelinas offered this pearl of wisdom "Every month that goes by, more and more youth pick up smoking by experimenting with e-cigarettes and then making the switch." Oh come on, France! We don't have a problem with banning the sale of e-cigs and e-juice to persons under the age of 19 – in fact, we in the industry have, for the most part, self-regulated on this issue.
And we can understand The Canadian Cancer Society's take on the banning of flavoured and menthol tobacco as "a giant step forward in protecting the health of Ontario youth and preventing cancer." But a complete ban on e-cigarettes? The Progressive Conservatives said it best – the Liberals are great at banning things, but should take more concrete steps to lower tobacco smoking rates!
What to do? Contact your local MPP's office and respectfully voice your opinion on e-cigarette legislation.