E-Cigarettes Face Smoking Bans and Restrictions

Global regulation and bans on e-cigarettes appear to be coming.

E-Cigarettes Face Global Regulation

THUNDER BAY – Health – Toronto has moved to ban e-cigarettes. In a report released on August 1st 2014 Toronto’s Public Health Authority states, “Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery operated devices that mimic the use and sometimes the appearance and taste of conventional cigarettes. They do not contain tobacco and produce vapour instead of smoke when used. In the few years since their appearance, use has proliferated in North America, including Toronto”.

Global regulation and bans on e-cigarettes appear to be coming.

“Toronto Public Health (TPH) reviewed available evidence on e-cigarette use, safety, health effects, and potential as a cessation aid; as well as actions in other jurisdictions and regulatory gaps at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Based on this review, a number of concerns have been identified about e-cigarette safety, impact on youth smoking initiation, and potential to normalize smoking behaviour and undermine existing tobacco control legislation. A number of Canadian and international jurisdictions have proposed or taken action to address these concerns. As a result, TPH has developed a position statement on e-cigarettes and health outlining current concerns and summarizing appropriate regulatory and policy approaches to address them.

Prohibit E-Cigarette Use with Restrictions

The World Health Organization wants authorities to crack down on the e-cigarette. The global health watchdog just released a report saying that e-cigarettes could pose a threat to public health. New regulations it seeks to impose include a ban on indoor use and sales to minors. The W.H.O’s Dr. Douglas Bettcher says “It is also trying to dispel any notion that e-cigarettes are safer to smoke than regular cigarettes, citing a lack of scientific evidence to support such a claim”.

The Director of the WHO, Dr. Douglas Bettcher states, “Underlying reasons for regulation are really to impede the promotion of these products to non-smokers and youth. And really to minimize the health risks to both users and non-users ”

This report recommends that the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) to include e-cigarettes, such that the Act would prohibit e-cigarette use wherever cigarette use is currently prohibited in Ontario; and prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors (under 19 years of age). If provincial action is not taken by February 2015, the Medical Officer of Health will consult with the City Solicitor, other City Divisions and relevant stakeholders and report to the Board of Health on municipal measures to prohibit e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited under the SFOA or City by-laws.

World Health Organization Seeks Regulation

Electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, represent an “evolving frontier filled with promise and threat for tobacco control,” a new United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) report said today, urging regulations to impede their promotion to non-smokers and young people.

“Evidence shows that while they are likely to be less toxic than conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes use poses threats to adolescents and fetuses of pregnant mothers using these devices,” said Douglas Bettcher, WHO Director of Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases in an interview with UN Radio.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), of which electronic cigarettes are the most common prototype, are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution the user then inhales. The report says existing evidence shows that e-cigarette aerosol is not merely “water vapour” as is often claimed in the marketing of these products.

The report outlines several regulations including a ban on nicotine-vapour products with fruit, candy-like and alcohol-drink flavours until it can be proved they are not attractive to children and adolescents. E-cigarettes have been marketed in almost 8,000 different flavours, and there is concern they will serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, smoking, particularly for young people. Experimentation with e-cigarettes is increasing rapidly among adolescents, with e-cigarette use in this group doubling from 2008 to 2012, the report also states.

“E-cigarettes also increase the exposure of non-smokers and bystanders to nicotine and a number of other toxicants, the report indicates, and existing evidence also shows that e-cigarettes aerosol is not merely, as is often quoted, water vapour,” Mr. Bettcher reported.

It is important to prohibit unproven health claims about e-cigarettes and protect existing tobacco control efforts from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry, the report says. An appropriate Government body must restrict e-cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship, to ensure that it does not target youth and non-smokers.

The document also found there was currently insufficient evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes help users quit smoking or not. Therefore, WHO currently recommends that smokers should first be encouraged to quit smoking and nicotine addiction by using a combination of already-approved treatments.

Since 2005, the e-cigarette industry has grown from one manufacturer in China to an estimated $3 billion global business with 466 brands, a market in which the tobacco industry is taking a greater stake. WHO expresses concern about the tobacco industry’s role in this market.

Electronic cigarettes will be discussed at the 6th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, being held 13-18 October 2014, in Moscow.

Thunder Bay Decisions?

The City of Thunder Bay has not moved to restrict e-cigarettes. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit, which offers many options to encourage people to quit smoking has not formed an official policy.

In Thunder Bay EMS deals with many calls for service from people who are having difficulty breathing. With a large number of people across Northwestern Ontario who smoke cigarettes, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has moved forward with a no smoking policy for the entire facility.

This year the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition moved to restrict smoking to only a few areas of the fair, a move widely supported by attendees.

It is very likely that in Thunder Bay e-cigarettes will face similar restrictions to cigarettes in the near future.

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