Users of e-cigarettes may soon be asked to butt out, and city council wants the “vaping” gadgets banned wherever cigarettes are currently prohibited.
The city is asking Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins to amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to include e-cigarettes.
The call comes from the Toronto Board of Health and its recommendation was passed on Aug. 25 in a council decision that also banned the smoking of e-cigarettes at City of Toronto workplaces.
Battery operated e-cigarettes mimic the use, look and smell of cigarettes, and are used as a means of helping smokers to quit.
They use a liquid that when heated makes vapour that resembles cigarette smoke.
E-cigarettes were developed in China in 2004 and have been available in Toronto since 2007.
Ward 21 councillor Joe Mihevc, who is also the chair of the Toronto Board of Health, says it’s important to widen a ban on the use — or “vaping” — of e-cigarettes because it could act as a gateway into smoking.
“The piece we’re very concerned about is it becoming the entry activity into smoking,” he said. “Young people are very susceptible to peer pressure and to the advertising.
“We know that, so we want to nip this early in the bud.”
The idea of people mimicking what they see doesn’t ring true for Raquel Howlett, manager of Urban Vapour, an e-cigarette retailer on St. Clair Avenue East near Yonge Street.
“I don’t find that a lot of our customers aren’t smokers and just start vaping because they’ve seen it and think it looks cool,” she said, adding e-cigarettes have proven an effective tool to get people to quit smoking. “A lot of people who come in here usually stop smoking.
“Like me, before coming here I was a smoker – a pack a day – and I don’t smoke at all anymore. And I’d been smoking for eight years.”
Mihevc said while e-cigarettes may be smoking cessations, the studies aren’t there to prove it just yet. Until then, he wants to make sure e-cigarettes aren’t being marketed to young people.
“It’s a private activity,” he said. “Making it less visible [is important] because there’s a negative impact to that activity.”