Health minister says legislation needed to govern e-cigarettes

Published on December 5, 2013
Mason Campbell, left, and Laurel MacLeod use e-cigarettes at The End Vapour Shop in downtown New Glasgow. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

NEW GLASGOW – If it looks, tastes and is used like tobacco, Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine believes it should probably be treated like tobacco.

Glavine, wants to see legislation catch up to technology when it comes to e-cigarettes.

Tobacco use and sale is currently regulated provincially by the Smoke Free Places Act and the Tobacco Act, but because e-cigarettes don’t use tobacco and don’t produce smoke, they don’t technically fall under the rules of either.

“It is an area now that is new, and we need to take a look at it,” he said.

An e-cigarette electronically uses a vapour which gives the user, or “vaper” as they are called, a dose of nicotine without the other ingredients included in tobacco. The e-cigarettes can also use juice without nicotine. Proponents say they believe it is healthier because it gets rid of some of the harmful ingredients in tobacco.

New Glasgow business The End Vapour Shop, owned by Shai Connors, currently is one of the main stores in the province that sells them and Connors has received an order from the federal Department of Health telling her to stop selling the product.

She says she will not close.

“I’m not breaking the law, so why should I close?” she told The News earlier this week.

While members of the provincial Department of Health hasn’t told the business to close, they have expressed concern about the product.

“This is a different product but what we are concerned about at the Department of Health is to see if in fact they do pose some health risks,” Glavine said.

Ontario is taking a lead in gathering research on the topic nationally, but Doctors Nova Scotia is also helping the Nova Scotia Department of Health look into it.

One area Glavine is concerned about is the fact that the e-cigarette can be used in places that ban smoking.

“Will this undermine the past achievements in establishing smoke free social norms?” he questions.

While e-cigarettes don’t produce second-hand smoke, he believes public use could result in an acceptance of nicotine usage, which is clearly an addictive substance. It has the potential to draw people deeper into addiction.

“That’s really one of the biggest concerns being put forth by those looking at the e-cigarette.”

The e-cigarettes can also be sold to minors.

After some more research is done, Glavine said he hopes to have something to introduce to the legislature in the spring.

 

IN BOX

What is an e-cigarette?

An e-cigarette, which is also referred to as an electronic cigarette, e-cig or personal vaporizer, is an alternative to cigarette smoking. The battery-powered device vaporizes a liquid inside the cartridge which can contain varying strengths of nicotine and flavours, which is inhaled. The exhalation resembles smoke, but is actually water vapour which dissipates within seconds. It is odourless, has very little smell and does not leave build-up on surfaces and fabrics.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states the efficacy in using electronic cigarettes to aid in smoking cessation has not been demonstrated scientifically. They recommend that consumers should be strongly advised not to use electronic cigarettes until a reputable national regulatory body has found them safe and effective.