The use of e-cigarettes will be banned from use in indoor public places with changes to existing tobacco legislation, the government of Nova Scotia announced Friday.
Health Minister Leo Glavine said the government wants to change the definition of smoke to deal with waterpipes and vapour from e-cigarettes.
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The definition of smoke in the Smoke-free Places Act will be changed to address second-hand smoke from waterpipes and vapour from e-cigarettes. In addition, the definition of tobacco will be changed in the Tobacco Access Act to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco cigarettes.
The changes would also ban stores from selling e-cigarettes to those under 19 and from displaying, advertising or promoting them. The sale of flavoured tobacco would be banned as well.
Glavine said the steps are needed to address emerging evidence that e-cigarettes pose a health risk, especially to young people.
Meanwhile, Imperial Tobacco said the province is making "a big mistake" by regulating e-cigarettes the same way it does tobacco ones.
The battery-operated devices deliver nicotine as a vapour, which proponents say is healthier than smoking. There's an ongoing scientific debate about their safety.
In Canada, Imperial Tobacco sells cigarettes made from tobacco but its parent company, British American Tobacco, makes and sells e-cigarettes.
"Health Canada is looking into the regulatory framework for e-cigarettes and if at one point British American Tobacco or Imperial Tobacco Canada wanted to come to market with these products then we're a hoping a regulatory framework which would allow us to do so would be in place," said Sebastian Dolan, a spokesman for Imperial.
Imperial said it's "shocked" the province is ignoring the advice of some public health officials who regard e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking.
Glavine said the province isn't banning e-cigarettes, it plans to control them.
"The flavour juice, it's still nicotine. It becomes an addiction for our youth and that's where we draw the line," he said.
"Imperial Tobacco is concerned that our legislation could reduce the uptake of nicotine."