Some Greater Victoria malls have taken the step to ban the use of nicotine vaporizers indoors.
News this week that the province is prepared to regulate e-cigarettes the same way it does tobacco, is being applauded by the man largely responsible for prompting the Capital Regional District to institute indoor smoking bans.
Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Island Health, said his department will likely ramp up its offensive against the growing trend of “vaping” after the civic election and the new slate of CRD directors have been installed.
A presentation was made last spring to the local politicians about the existing knowledge and science around “vaping.” Not only has the e-cig industry “exploded” since then, he said, knowledge about the chemical makeup of the vapour emitted and the liquids vapourized is becoming more available. Plus, other jurisdictions have instituted their own localized rules.
Hillside and Mayfair centres have banned e-cigarettes in their shopping areas. Westshore Town Centre in Langford uses Health Canada guidelines on smoking and asks mall staff and customers to take e-cigs outside, despite the lack of a definitive stance on vaping from the federal body.
While smoking e-cigs is definitely safer than smoking tobacco, said Stanwick, some smokers use juices that contain nicotine. Recently, a research report stated that fine particulate matter has been detected in the vapours that can potentially be harmful to people who breathe it in second-hand.
Delegates at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention adopted a resolution urging government action on the products. Critics argue that the growing trend toward vaping rather than smoking cigarettes raises 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 the 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 pass their own bylaws to restrict use of e-cigarettes.
“At the end of the day, our elected officials have the final say. My job is to make sure they have the current information,” he said. “Then they make the decision.”
– with files from Jeff Nagel