Two sides to the e-cigarette debate
SASKATOON – An electronic cigarette seller in Saskatoon says he supports some regulation of the industry. Mitch Tarala runs Vapor Jedi, which has grown rapidly, along with the popularity of e-cigarettes.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report calling for stricter regulation of the industry, including banning sales to minors, and banning their use indoors.
“I’d like to see age restrictions,” Tarala told Global Saskatoon’s Morning News. “Here, as a store policy we don’t sell to anyone under 18, we don’t even let them come in the store.”
However, Tarala says he also does not want to see over-regulation. For example, he’d like bars to be able to decide for themselves if they’ll allow “vaping,” as it’s called, inside.
“I would like to see it left up to businesses.”
Watch below: Mitch Tarala says e-cigarettes are a positive thing by helping people switch away from something that is harmful
The Canadian Cancer Society has a different view. Donna Pasiechnik, who is the Canadian Cancer Society’s manager of tobacco control for Saskatchewan, said the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among youth, is ringing some alarms.
“There’s a perception among young people that electronic cigarettes are harmless,” she told Global’s Morning News. “Many kids who might not otherwise smoke are choosing to try electronic cigarettes, and that can lead to tobacco use and addiction, which is a concern.”
She added the Canadian Cancer Society has tried to reduce tobacco use for decades, and they don’t want those gains eroded.
“The last thing we need are young kids trying electronic cigarettes, thinking they’re safe, and getting hooked on nicotine – that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
Watch below: The Canadian Cancer Society recommends not using e-cigarettes until it is approved by Health Canada
Like WHO, the Canadian Cancer Society wants to see more regulations, including no sales to minors, and a ban on indoor use. Pasiechnik added there is a lack of information on their long term health effects.
WHO says e-cigarettes are less toxic than conventional cigarettes, but may also contain nicotine and other compounds. Those are some of the reasons why it wants the industry regulated.
In Canada, there is little regulation of e-cigarettes, although Health Canada does recommend against using them.
Tarala admits e-cigarettes may not be completely safe – but for people who smoke, he thinks it can be an alternative.
“It’s helping a lot of people to switch away from something that’s known to be harming them, turning to something that’s provably safer, maybe not completely safe, but definitely safer than smoking tobacco,” he said.
“I don’t think it should be looked at as negatively as its going.”
A WHO official told reporters on Tuesday that e-cigarettes are a story of both risk, and promise.