The B.C. government is tightening its regulations to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and use of the smoking substitute in workplaces, restaurants and other indoor public spaces.
Health Minister Terry Lake said changes he introduced in the B.C. legislature Thursday will treat the battery-powered devices like tobacco products, meaning they may not be displayed in stores or used in enclosed spaces where others are present. That will include private vehicles with children inside.
Lake said he expects the new regulations to be in effect within a year, after consulting with the industry and giving sellers time to adjust to the new rules.
“This doesn’t ban e-cigarettes,” Lake said. “This means that children are protected from the sale and from being exposed to e-cigarettes, and those who don’t want to be subjected to the vapours from e-cigarettes are protected as well.
“Essentially the same conditions that now apply to tobacco will apply to e-cigarettes, so in public places, indoor workplaces, school grounds and now health authorities as well.”
Lake said e-cigarettes may have potential as a quit-smoking aid, but they are currently unregulated and the liquid used in them may contain nicotine or other chemicals with health risks. The federal government has banned the sale of so-called “e-juice” containing nicotine, but it remains legal in the U.S. and Health Canada has received numerous reports that it is sold north of the border as well.
There have also been reports of sales to minors as young as 11.
NDP health critic Judy Darcy said she supports the restriction on e-cigarettes, but the lack of measures to prohibit flavoured tobacco products is “a gaping hole” in the government’s bill.
Lake said he has been assured by federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose that federal regulations are in the works to deal with flavoured tobacco.
“When you’re talking about the manufacture of cigars and cigarettes, it’s better to do that at a federal level, because obviously they’re not made in each individual province,” Lake said.
B.C.’s proposed legislation is here.