As another e-cigarette store in Pictou County opened its doors, the provincial Department of Health continues to look at ways to legislate restrictions on the products.
Brad Miller of Thorburn is the proud owner and operator of Kickin’ Ash Vape Shop on Foord Street in Stellarton. Before that, he was a bartender at the Roseland Cabaret and currently is a delivery driver for Sam’s Pizza in Stellarton.
He said he decided to open a vape shop on Sept. 8, the second such store after The End Vapour Shop in New Glasgow, after switching to e-cigarettes after smoking for 15 years.
“I realized how easy it was and how great it made me feel. I wanted to help other smokers make the switch to a safer alternative to smoking,” he said. “Things are going great so far.”
But all that could change for Pictou County’s e-cigarette stores if legislation planned for this fall is passed.
“We certainly have legislation proposed,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang. “We haven’t decided on a timeline yet, however.”
Strang noted that when the legislation is tabled, the proposal will see the regulation of e-cigarettes just like tobacco products. This means e-cigarettes couldn’t be sold to anyone under the age of 19, would be banned for use in places listed in the Smoke-free Places Act and would see restricted advertising and display.
“They will still be allowed on the market to use as a cessation product but we want to prevent youth uptake and real risk that e-cigarettes could renormalize smoking in general.”
For Miller, the legislation is too cumbersome and doesn’t let individuals and businesses make their own choices.
“I feel it’s horrible that they are trying to put vaping in the same category as tobacco products, but some points they make are good, like sales to someone under the age of 19,” he said. “Most respectable vape shops follow those guidelines already.”
As far as being banned in public places, Miller feels it should come down to each individual establishment making their own decisions.
While Strang noted that e-cigarettes might be beneficial as a cessation aid to quit smoking, he said the research to date shows they have no greater benefit over cessation aids such as a nicotine patch or gum.
“The greater concern is that e-cigarettes would be an inducement for youth to develop a nicotine addiction.”
Strang indicated that there is emerging evidence that the particulate size in the vapour may lead to risk of heart disease.
“It’s safe to say the jury is out on e-cigarettes,” he said. “But this proposed legislation would allow access to purchase them.”
Miller believes that too much emphasis has been put on e-cigarettes as the first step in quitting smoking altogether.
“E-cigs are not an cessation product, it’s a safer alternative to smoking. I would have to say that 90 per cent of the customers are not using it to quit smoking but simply to vape instead of smoke.”
He said that some customers have been vaping for years and do not intend to quit vaping.
“They simply feel better than when they smoked cigarettes.”
Strang noted that, in all likelihood, Nova Scotia would be the first in Canada to adopt laws regarding e-cigarettes.
“These shops can continue to operate as long as they follow the rules,” he said.
Miller, whose shop has been open for a little over a month, said there are a lot of customers happy to have the store in Stellarton.
“When the legislation comes in place, we will adapt to them and make sure our customers are still able to have a safer alternative to smoking, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”
The proposed legislation doesn’t call for any additional taxes to e-cig products or juices.
Attempts to reach Health Canada for comment were unsuccessful by press time.
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