August 12, 2014 6:34 pm
Updated: November 25, 2014 12:26 pm

Medical officer recommends Toronto ban e-cigarettes


Watch above: Dr. Samir Gupta talks about e-cigarettes and gives tips on quitting smoking. 

TORONTO – The city should treat e-cigarettes the same as regular cigarettes and ban them from certain public areas if the Ontario government won’t step up and regulate the increasingly used cigarette, according to a report from the city’s chief medical officer of health.

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The report, which will be reviewed by the city’s Board of Health on August 18, asks the city to request the province amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to prohibit e-cigarettes wherever smoking is banned, ban the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes and limit e-cigarette displays in stores.

If the province won’t, the report says, the city should investigate doing it themselves.

In an email to Global News, provincial officials said they have asked the federal government to take a “more active role in regulating e-cigarettes.”

“Electronic cigarettes have been identified as an emerging trend in Ontario, and concerns have been raised about the implications for tobacco control efforts, including prevention, cessation, and de-normalizing tobacco use. At this time, there is limited research on the effectiveness of e–cigarettes to help people quit smoking, potential health risks, and link to tobacco use uptake. The ministry is monitoring the issue and along with emerging research,” the statement read.

E-cigarettes have been available in North America since 2007 and those with nicotine do require authorization from Health Canada.

But to date, no e-cigarettes have received authorization from the health agency.

The cigarettes contain far less chemicals than traditional cigarettes but do include heavy metals including nickel and chromium and chemicals like formaldehyde have been detected in the vapor, according to the report.

“We do know from biochemical studies that there are some carcinogens, and heavy metals and things like formaldehyde in the vapor itself that can affect people’s health,” Global News medical contributor Dr. Samir Gupta said. “And we’ve got short term studies that have shown affects on lung function and possibly lung inflammation.”

Gupta said there is also concern about the vapors effect on bystanders as well as the possibility e-cigarettes could lead more people to start smoking.

“It may actually be a way to introduce people to smoking and get people started on smoking,” Gupta said. “The idea is that if you’re using an e-cigarette with nicotine in it, you might become addicted to nicotine and then eventually switch over to real cigarettes, which are actually much more effective at quelling those nicotine urges.”

Dr. Samir Gupta’s five tips to stop smoking:

1. Get motivated

“We have very good medications to help you quit, but they won’t quit for you,” Gupta said. “You really have to be motivated and want to quit to enter that process.”

2. Use medications

Some stop-smoking medications are covered by OHIP and have been found effective in helping people to quit smoking.

3. Choose a date to quit smoking

Gupta advises people trying to quit smoking to pick a firm date and stick with it, otherwise they are likely to continuously push the date back and continue to smoke.

4. What about alternative therapies?

Many people look to acupuncture or laser treatment to help them quit smoking but, Gupta said, there isn’t sufficient data suggesting long-term effectiveness of the therapies.

5.  Get some help

Gupta says having some kind of counselling – whether it’s help setting a quite date, or plan, or coping with side effects – can help people successfully quit smoking.

Ontario Lung Association toll free Helpline 1–888–344–LUNG (5864)

The Smoker’s Helpline 1-877-513-5333.

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