B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake says the provincial government will regulate the sale of e-cigarettes if the federal government does not.

Province pledges e-cigarette regulation if feds won’t act

Health minister stresses need for sale restrictions, non-committal on extending smoking bans to 'vaping'

Health Minister Terry Lake says the province is prepared to regulate electronic cigarettes so their sale is governed by the same provincial restrictions as tobacco smoking.

He was responding to a resolution adopted Friday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention urging government action.

The growing trend of “vaping” with e-cigarettes instead of smoking has raised questions over product safety and concerns that years of anti-smoking gains could unravel if nicotine addiction rebounds.

Lake said he’d prefer the federal government regulate the battery-powered vaporizers instead, but added the province will act within a year if Ottawa does not.

The goal, he said, would be to ensure e-cigarettes face most of the same bans or restrictions that apply on regular ones under B.C.’s Tobacco Control Act, particularly the ban on sale of tobacco to minors and the rules on advertising and display.

Lake wouldn’t yet say if the provincial ban on smoking in public buildings and workplaces, or within three metres of their doors and open windows, would also apply to vaping, but he noted cities can also pass their own bylaws to restrict use of e-cigarettes. Provincial law also bans smoking on all school grounds and in vehicles carrying youth under 16.

The City of Vancouver is considering extending its smoking bylaw to e-cigarettes and adding the word “vaporizing” to its no-smoking signs.

Lake is expected to continue to press for a national solution this week at a conference of provincial health ministers and federal officials.

Fraser Health Authority medical health officer Helena Swinkels supports strong regulation by both the province and municipalities.

“I am very concerned about e-cigarettes and their uptake among youth,” she said. “I am concerned whether they actually help people to stop smoking or prolong people’s use.”

The B.C. Healthy Living Alliance argues the use of e-cigarettes to defy public smoking bans undermines a key deterrent to tobacco use.

Swinkels agreed the potential “social renormalization” of the act of smoking is a concern in part because users can vape in places where they’re banned from smoking.

She said the jury is out as to whether e-cigarettes are effective and safe smoking cessation aids, noting they are regulated as consumer products and have not undergone the approval process required for a medication.

“There’s some evidence that people using these may end up smoking more,” Swinkels said. “There’s little oversight of what goes into them and we know some of the ingredients are respiratory irritants.”

Nicotine isn’t authorized for sale in the flavoured “juice” for e-cigs, but it is readily available.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Lives Matter events planned for Courtenay

Peaceful gatherings are scheduled for Simms Park Friday and Saturday

Arnott taking medical leave as Comox mayor

Coun. Ken Grant will step in a mayor for time being

Comox Valley Regional District receives $100,000 to develop poverty action plan

Courtenay-Comox NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard says a $100,000 grant in provincial funding… Continue reading

North Island support group expands boundaries

Despite restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, the North Island Mood Disorders Society… Continue reading

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Cortes Island affordable housing project hangs by a thread

Regional decision makers resort to COVID-19 concerns despite virtual meeting option and push hearing to September

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Damage happens every year, forcing site manager to reallocate improvement budget to repairs

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Man found dead in his tent at Island homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

Most Read