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E-cigarettes produce a water vapour that looks like smoke. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)

Nova Scotia is planning to treat e-cigarettes like ordinary cigarettes by banning them from bars and restaurants and limiting the ways they can be sold, says the province's minister of health.

The restrictions would apply whether the devices are loaded with nicotine or just flavours.

Currently, it's up to individual bars and restaurants to decide if the electric devices are allowed. The devices produce no smoke, but a water vapour that looks like smoke. There is no risk of second-hand smoke. 

Leo Glavine, the minister of health and wellness, announced the decision Thursday.

"We've made such great gains in terms of not having smoking in public places and the e-cigarettes will be looked at through the Smoke-Free Places Act and that will come forward in the spring," he said.

Glavine's department is also drafting amendments to the law to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and to force retailers only to sell e-cigarettes from behind the counter.

Companies that sell them would also be prevented from displaying them in the same way that traditional cigarette displays are banned.