E-cigarettes up in smoke? Expect ban on vaping on bus, métro

Date:14/12/12
E-cigarettes up in smoke? Expect ban on vaping on bus, métro

www.cofttek.com

Get your vaping in now.
Sometime in 2015, e-cigarettes will be banned on buses and métros. And restaurants, bars, terraces beaches, public pools and parks might not be very far behind.
 
That’s because several public agencies have begun to comply with a directive by Montreal’s Public Health Department that the products be treated like regular cigarettes, subject to the same controls and restrictions.
 
The battery-operated, cigarette-shaped electronic device may have a glowing tip at its “burning end,” but produces wisps of vapours that are odourless and smoke-free.
 
The Agence métropolitaine de Transport recently banned e-cigarettes on its trains and buses, to comply with the directive from the health department.
 
“They are considered to be the same thing as regular cigarettes to us,” said AMT spokesperson Fanie St-Pierre. “People can get a $50 ticket for it, though no infractions have ever been given out. I think if you warn someone once, they’ll just turn off their cigarette.”
 
For the AMT, e-cigarettes are banned in all the same places as conventional ones: on trains, shelters, and stations, but not necessarily on quays, which are in the open air.
 
However, most agencies have not followed suit at this point. So the devices are not outlawed on buses, métros, their stations and in bus shelters.
 
The STM is expected to ban the devices next year, said Isabelle Tremblay, a spokesperson for the transit corporation.
 
“It wasn’t covered until now because it is a new product that didn’t exist before,” Tremblay said.
 
She said the STM’s board expects to adopt changes to the corporations rules that will ban e-cigarettes in the coming weeks. Once that is done, the change must be approved by a vote of Montreal city council, so it could take a month or two before the STM’s ban is adopted.
 
Deborah Bonney, a spokesperson for Montreal’s Public Health Department, said there is a concern about the rapid rise of e-cigarettes, and the lack of regulations around them.
 
Bonney said she understands the e-cigarettes are currently considered to be safer than traditional ones because there are not as many carcinogenic chemicals in them. Many, however, contain nicotine.
 
In an action plan adopted earlier this year, the public health department urged the province to change its laws to cover e-cigarettes. That would mean they would be prohibited in bars, restaurants, and indoors, as well as on patios and terrasses. The department also urged that all types of cigarettes be banned in outdoor common spaces like parks, swimming pools and beaches.
 
Bonney said aside from the health issues, there is a concern that e-cigarettes could get young people into smoking more toxic products.
 
“There are hundreds of flavours out there now,” she said. “We don’t want e-cigarettes to lead to initiation of tobacco use.”
 
She added that the effects on people of inhaling second-hand vapour is not yet known, so banning them indoors make sense.
 
The department is also concerned that the sale of the e-cigarettes isn’t regulated, nor are their contents. It is asking Health Canada to step in and regulate the industry.
 
“The idea is that it be controlled, that it’s not a free-for-all out there,” Bonney said. “What’s happening now is that there are boutiques popping up everywhere, and they’re mixing the e-liquid in front of the clients. There’s no assurance as to what the clients are getting, and no oversight at all.”
 
Alexandra Bernier, a spokesperson for Lucie Charlebois, the junior minister for public health, said the law is currently under review, and a change will likely be introduced soon after the National Assembly resumes from its holiday break.