The Ontario government will move to restrict the use of electronic cigarettes and treat them much the same as regular cigarettes.
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Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla made the announcement at a new conference on Monday morning.
The law, which will be introduced on Monday, will effectively ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is already prohibited. They will also be banned for anyone under 19 from buying, just as cigarettes are currently treated.
The law is also expected to ban flavoured tobacco products, which are especially popular with young people. As well, menthol cigarettes will be eventually phased out.
“Every day, I see people in my office who are seriously ill or who are dying because of smoking," said Dr. Scott Wooder, past president of the Ontario Medical Association. "Flavoured tobacco products are aimed squarely at children and teenagers. Ontario’s doctors welcome this legislation."
About one-quarter of Ontario high school students said they'd smoked a menthol cigarette in the past 30 days, according to a recent government survey.
"This legislation will protect our children and youth from the deadly effects of tobacco use," said Mark Holland, executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.
Smoking to be banned on all patios
The government will also step up penalties for anyone caught selling e-cigarettes to anyone underage. And smoking tobacco of any kind will be banned on all outdoor patios — currently, it's only forbidden on covered patios.
If the bill passes, the ban on sale to minors would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The ban on using e-cigarettes in public places would come into effect a year later on New Year's Day.
E-cigarettes don't contain tobacco and produce vapour instead of smoke, which proponents say helps smokers kick their habit.
Some public health advocates say they're concerned that it's also "normalizing" cigarette smoking for minors, giving a dangerous habit that's widely restricted a whole new image.
In August, Premier Kathleen Wynne said her government would look into the issue but that she wouldn't rush into a decision on whether to ban them entirely.
The government estimates that about 13,000 Ontarians die every year due to tobacco products. That's about 36 every single day.
A separate part of the legislation will force restaurants, bars and grocery stores to disclose the number of calories in alcoholic drinks.
The rule would only apply to large chains with multiple locations — 60 per cent of which, the government says, are already doing that.