Toronto’s medical officer of health is making a number of recommendations, including asking the province to make amendments to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to include vape products. Dr. Eileen de Villa said she wants to see all flavoured vaping products, with the exception of tobacco flavour, banned at stores where “minors have access.”
The report said this would create more alignment with the legislation regarding tobacco sales, which also bans flavoured products from being sold here. The report cites a national survey which said one of the main reasons youths started to vape was due to the flavours available.
De Villa also recommends the Board of Health look into stricter restrictions on where people can vape. More information is being requested from several other departments to look at making amendments to existing city by-laws that prohibit smoking, so that they would also include vaping.
The report comes ahead of new legislation governing the advertisement of vaping products. In a statement from Ontario’s Ministry of Health, officials said as of Jan. 1 the promotion of vaping products will only be allowed in specialty vape stores and cannabis retail stores (removing ads from convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores etc.).
The statement said the Ontario government is continuing consultations and that there might be further action taken.
The recommendations from de Villa are being made following a request from the Board of Health into health impacts of vaping and potential options on how to respond. The report states that while some consider vaping to be less harmful than combustible tobacco products, it cites Health Canada’s conclusion that the long-term effects are still unknown.
“The more we learn about vaping, the worse it gets,” said Board of Health Chair and Councillor Joe Cressy.
The report also said that youth exposure to nicotine found in vaping products is also a major concern. According to the report, there is concern that more than a decade of progress made by public health in regards to tobacco control is being undermined.
After national surveys showed an increase in the use of vaping products by youth, the Board of Health has also requested federal assistance. Ottawa would be asked to set a limit of nicotine concentrations available in some products along with banning flavours other than tobacco in stores. It is also asking to prohibit vaping advertisements and promotions where minors have access.
Cressy said they could significantly reduce potential harm if all levels of government agree to the recommendations.
He said the province has already made some positive steps towards reducing access to minors, but he said they’re not comprehensive enough. He’s looking for the same all-government approach used to enforce tobacco products, to be applied to vaping as well.
The board is also looking to have plain packaging on products, similar to tobacco products.
“This isn’t rocket science, we did it for cigarettes, now we must do it for e-cigarettes as well” Cressy said.
Smoking tobacco and cannabis products are currently prohibited within a nine-metre radius of several city amenities.
The report also recommends that city staff look into banning vaping from similar areas, which would include city beaches, parks, playgrounds, skateboard parks, and sports fields.
Much like when legislation was brought in to enforce smoking, Cressy said he’s anticipating these calls will likewise be controversial.
“But it’s necessary and I’ll get it passed” he said.