Ban on public cannabis smoking, vaping looms in Greater Victoria

Smoking cannabis and vaping may soon be banned from almost all public places in Greater Victoria.

Proposed bylaw expansion to be voted on April 11

Proposed bylaw changes would ban smoking cannabis or e-cigarettes in most public places in the Capital Region including parks and within seven metres of buildings. (CBC)

Smoking cannabis and vaping may soon be banned from almost all public places in Greater Victoria.

A Capital Regional District committee gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a proposal to add cannabis and e-cigarettes to the clean air bylaw that already bans tobacco smoking in parks, within seven metres of buildings and in other public spaces.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, the chief medical health officer for Island Health, said the expanded bylaw is needed to give consistency to provincial regulations on cannabis and vaping, and to protect the public. 

Stanwick said both e-cigarettes and cannabis generate "fine particulate matter which are not good for health."

"Each one of them are associated with significant hazards; for example heavy metals with some vaping products," he said. "With the marijuana smoke we do know of at least 33 known carcinogens."

Tobacco remains the product that carries the highest health hazards, he said.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health's chief medical health officer, says education will be needed to inform the public about details of the ban on public toking and vaping, if it passes. (CBC)

The draft bylaw states no one can smoke any type of cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah pipe, or vaporizing device in parks, except in a private vehicle. The bylaw would also ban smoking the products in any designated public space, school yard or inside any building, except a private residence, hotel or motel room, or tent or trailer in a campsite.

It would also ban smoking the products in a business place where food and beverages are served, and within seven metres of a building or bus stop.

Stanwick said people who use cannabis as a medication have alternatives to smoking or vapourizing it because the products are available in other forms.

Stanwick said the legislation would also make enforcement easier. Bylaw officers would no longer have to determine what products are being smoked and where.

The proposed toking and vaping ban goes forward for consideration by the full Capital Regional District board of directors on April 11.