E-cigarettes a foggy issue in Winnipeg restaurants, campuses
Vaping not banned in Manitoba, but restaurant owner wants clear guidelines
The rising popularity of e-cigarettes in Manitoba means they are bound to appear in restaurants, bars and campuses across the province, but rules on whether they're allowed in those establishments vary.
In Canada, selling e-cigarettes with nicotine or those with a health claim is not authorized, though selling e-cigarettes or e-juice without nicotine is legal.
E-cigarettes are not restricted in Manitoba, meaning it's up to individual establishments to allow or ban them on their premises.
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Of 10 Winnipeg eateries contacted by CBC News on Wednesday night, four did not have a policy related to the use of e-cigarettes.
Kristen Chemerika-Lew, the owner of Chew Restaurant in Winnipeg, says officials should form some clear regulation.
"Taking the onus off the restaurant owner makes everybody feel a little bit better in that situation," she said.
Red River College allows e-cigs in specific areas
Meanwhile, Red River College says e-cigarettes can be used only in designated smoking areas on campus.
RRC spokesperson Conor Lloyd says the college has no choice but to treat all e-cigarettes the same way, even if those without nicotine are legal in Canada.
"It would be a challenge for anybody from our security services to go up and verify whether or not there's nicotine or not in an e-cigarette," Lloyd said Thursday.
"From that perspective … we're going to trust the people that they're using the e-cigarettes that are permissible here in Canada."
The University of Winnipeg says it has no policy banning e-cigarettes from its campuses, but officials say they will address the issue at an upcoming meeting.
The Winnipeg School Division says e-cigarettes are not allowed in its schools.
Banned in other cities
Last week, Toronto city council voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes from city work spaces, as well as ask the Ontario government to place restrictions on the products that would treat them like regular cigarettes.
Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago have also banned e-cigarettes. Red Deer, Alta., was among the first Canadian municipalities to ban them.
The Manitoba government says it's not considering an e-cigarette ban at this time, opting instead to call for more research.
"It is clear that more research is required to assess the possible side effects of e-cigarettes as well as to determine their effectiveness as a smoking cessation aid," a provincial government spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.
"Manitoba will continue to rely on the advice of Health Canada and medical experts on this issue. We will also continue to work with other provinces in calling for further research and as well as clear and consistent nation regulation. For those reasons, we are not currently looking at a ban."
Healthier than smoking, say supporters
An e-cigarette includes a battery, heating coil and a cartridge containing e-juice, the liquid that may or may not contain nicotine and gets vaporized when the battery powers the coil to heat up the liquid.
The vapour gets drawn up by the wick when someone inhales, and there is no smoke, so it's called "vaping."
Proponents of vaping argue that it's healthier than smoking.
Red River College student A.J. Gartner says his e-cigarette has helped him wean his addiction to traditional cigarettes by controlling the amount of nicotine he inhales.
"I've tried some other cessation aids — gum, nicotine patch, even Champix. None of them worked. This is the only thing that has absolutely caused me to stop smoking for more than, say, a month," he said.
At the same time, Gartner said he understands why vaping is not allowed in some places.
"If they're uncomfortable with this, then I have to respect that," he said.
"It feels good. It feels different," said Jade Reykdal, a former smoker who has been vaping for about a month.
At the same time, Reykdal said she recognizes that many people don't like vaping.
"It's frightening people because it's unknown to them," she said.
Supporters say many who vape still treat e-cigarettes like traditional cigarettes in that they use the products outside or in the privacy of their own homes.