Saskatchewan health minister urges caution over issue of vaping in public
An electronic cigarette demonstrated in Chicago on April 23, 2014. (AP / Nam Y. Huh)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016 11:44AM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 3, 2016 4:36PM CST
Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan says there are no imminent plans to change provincial smoking laws to cover electronic cigarettes despite a request from municipal leaders.
A resolution passed at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention calls on the government to issue a provincewide ban on smoking and vaping in public places. It says the health effects of vaporized nicotine are still undetermined.
Duncan says while there are provincial smoking rules, communities still have their own bans for areas such as public parks.
"Even if we just added vaping to the provincial tobacco regulations, we still may end up with a patchwork (of rules) across the province, because municipalities could even go further than us," Duncan said Wednesday.
For example, Saskatoon already has a bylaw that prohibits smoking and vaping in public places owned by the city.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere, who voted in favour of the ban, said it would be easier for the government to make the change.
"I think a provincewide solution is better than the patchwork by different cities or towns or villages. Health is a provincial issue. It's not a city issue," he said.
"I understand his reluctance because politically it could be divisive to do that. But ... the right thing if people are asking for it -- and they are -- is make a minimum requirement, minimum standards. If municipalities want to go further, then they can do that."
Duncan added the issue should be approached with caution because vaping could possibly be used to help people stop smoking.
The health minister cited a report by Public Health England which says that e-cigarettes are "significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking." The document published last August says almost all of 2.6 million adults using e-cigarettes in Great Britain are current or ex-smokers, most of whom are using the devices to help them quit smoking or to prevent them going back to cigarettes.
"Other provinces are moving pretty quickly on vaping," said Duncan.
"And my caution to my colleagues is let's just be mindful of not going too far, too fast on this, if ... this is going to help people stop using tobacco."