Board of Health Pushes for Ban on E-cigarettes at all Local Schools
Written by admin, February 14, 2014
February 14, 2014 – On Wednesday night the Board of Health voted unanimously to advocate for an e-cigarette ban on all school properties in the City and County of Peterborough.
“The issue of e-cigarettes is new territory for public health, because there haven’t been many scientific studies done to date, and expert opinions are divided regarding their actual health impact,” stated Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health for the Peterborough County-City Board of Health. “We do know that major tobacco companies are involved in the e-cigarette market, and that current marketing and promotion of e-cigarettes mirrors the early days of cigarette promotion. I applaud the board’s prudent stance to advocate for a ban on e-cigarettes at schools so they don’t become a gateway product to cigarette smoking by youth.”
The Board of Health voted to act in a number of ways following a staff report discussed at Wednesday night’s meeting that outlined the complexity of the issue.
Proponents tend to take a harm reduction approach, emphasizing that even with limited evidence e-cigarettes pose a substantially lower health risk compared to cigarettes (as there is no combustion), representing a cleaner delivery system that satisfies nicotine addiction and habitual smoking behaviours. As well, proponents believe that e-cigarettes can be effective in helping smokers reduce their cigarette consumption and/or quit altogether.
Opponents emphasize that the sale and promotion of e-cigarettes should only be permitted after they have undergone rigorous clinical trials to prove their safety and efficacy as cessation aids and appropriate regulation is in effect. The long-term risk of inhaling propylene glycol (one of the main ingredients) is still unknown and lack of manufacturing standards means there is significant variation in nicotine and other chemical content, which poses a health risk to the user. Many fear that e-cigarettes, both with and without nicotine, have the potential to undermine current smoke-free regulations, complicate enforcement, and will re-normalize smoking thus making the habit more attractive, especially among youth and young adults, and could potentially lead to an increase in dual use (e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes).
In addition to sending a letter to both local school boards recommending they prohibit e-cigarettes on their properties, the Board of Health voted to advocate to Health Canada for regulation on the manufacture, sale, promotion, display, and use of e-cigarettes. The board also committed to ask the provincial government for legislation prohibiting of e-cigarettes on all school property, and direct staff to prepare a resolution regarding e-cigarettes to bring forward at the Association of Local Public Health Agencies’ Annual General Meeting in June 2014.
What is an e-cigarette?
An e-cigarette is a device designed to mimic the appearance and feel of a regular cigarette, pipe or cigar, but with one critical difference – they do not contain tobacco. They typically consist of a cartridge containing a liquid (often referred to as e-liquid) that is turned into a vapour by a battery-powered atomizer. Cartridges come in a vast assortment of flavours, and can contain nicotine, sometimes at very high levels. Since e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they are not covered under the Tobacco Act or the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and thus the regulation of e-cigarettes as a commercial product is a federal responsibility.
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