Island Health urging for restrictions on ‘e-cigs’

No bylaws regarding the devices currently exist in Lake Cowichan.

The provincial government recently introduced new legislation aimed at restricting the use of electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as e-cigs, this month. Some municipalities, like Vancouver, have followed suit, enacting new bylaws that restrict the use of the controversial devices in public, treating them as cigarettes. While Island Health has been urging some local governments to enact similar bylaws, Lake Cowichan’s current tobacco bylaws include no restrictions on e-cigs or vapourizing.

While “vaping” is not yet restricted by the town, e-cig users still must abide by provincial legislation, which bans vaping on public and private school grounds, as well as indoor public spaces and workplaces. The new legislation also prohibits vendors from selling to minors, regardless of the nicotine content of the product.

Dr. Paul Hasselback, medical health officer for Island Health, pointed out that the new legislation is not completely thorough, as it doesn’t include vaping at bus stops, parks or playgrounds.

While e-cig advocates point to the devices as being safer than conventional cigarettes, and an easy method of quitting smoking, Hasselback said the devices also work as a gateway and set a bad example for youth. He said it would “make sense” for e-cigs to be treated the same as tobacco, and that Island Health could make a formal request within the next two years.

Hasselback recently spoke to the City of Nanaimo regarding bylaws, though Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest said the health authority has yet to make a pitch to Lake Cowichan.

“We haven’t had this discussion yet, but it’s definitely going to be something we will be addressing,” Forrest said. “To be honest, I don’t know a lot about the subject. It’s something the town council and I will have to learn more about before amending any bylaws.”

Lake Cowichan got its first taste of vapour last January when Denise Allan, owner of The Depot, began selling nicotine-free products at her store.