Opinion

OUR VIEW: Keep e-cigs out of kids’ hands

A new product has hit store shelves with the potential to do great harm. Electronic nicotine-free cigarette-style vaporizers are designed to give smokers the pleasure and feeling of smoking a cigarette, without the nicotine and carcinogenic smoke.

Indeed, for many, these products may be useful in helping them to quit smoking by providing a healthier substitute.

But since the product doesn’t contain nicotine and smoke, it is currently unregulated, and legal to sell to minors.

This is problematic, because while e-cigarettes may be nicotine- and smoke-free, their use by children normalizes and glamourizes tobacco, and could encourage them to take up smoking real cigarettes.

Many electronic cigarettes come in fruity flavours, which seem to be geared specifically for children.

In 2010, Health Canada made it illegal for retailers to sell tobacco products flavoured with vanilla, banana, cherry, or other taste sensations that may appeal to children.

No restriction applies to e-cigarettes, however.

And it doesn’t make sense to expect shop owners to take it upon themselves to restrict the sale of a legal product out of some moral duty we may think they should have to the community. They are in business to do business, and will operate within the bounds of the law.

Which is why the laws need to change, with the sale of these products restricted to adults only.

Some jurisdictions are already placing restrictions on their use. Nova Scotia’s health ministry recently proposed banning e-cigarettes from bars and restaurants, whether the devices contain nicotine or not.

This week, Fraser Health chief medical health officer Paul Van Buynder suggested non-nicotine flavoured e-cigarette vaporizers could be a gateway to smoking tobacco, and thus should be restricted.

It’s time the provincial government caught up to this new technology, and ensure it stays out of the hands of children.

– Black Press

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