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Health board has concerns about new e-cigarette rules

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Richard Schabas says coming enforcement policies for e-cigarettes put public health agencies in an unusual situation.

e cigs“We’re undertaking a regulatory role that we have some concerns about,” he told the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health board Wednesday. “E-cigarettes appear to be a safe and effective smoking cessation tool and our mandate includes promoting smoking cessation, yet we are enforcing legislation that reduces access to this tool to those who may benefit from its use.”

The board heard about an August, 2015 report from Public Health England, which summarized a research study into e-cigarettes. The study concluded e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful to health than tobacco cigarettes. The study also concluded there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are undermining the long-term decline in smoking among adults and youth. The study suggested that encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes could reduce smoking-related disease and death.

Come January 1, 2016, HPEPH must begin education and inspections to ensure e-cigarettes are not sold to those under 19 years of age. The province introduced a new e-cigarette act in May that takes effect in two phases – the first starting Jan. 1, 2016. All public health providers across Ontario will be required to enforce the act.

Public Health inspectors will also be required to respond to public complaints about use of e-cigarettes in locations where tobacco use is prohibited. Beginning in January, 2017, the act extends to restricting display and promotion of e-cigarettes, only allowing their sale in places where tobacco products are sold.

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