Nfld. & Labrador

Take it outside: N.L. e-cigarette, vape shop rule changes coming in 2017

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is changing two pieces of legislation to include electronic cigarettes.
The province is changing its rules around electronic cigarettes, to come into effect by July 1, 2017. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is changing two pieces of legislation to include electronic cigarettes so they will be regulated in the same way as tobacco products.

The sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 19 will be prohibited.

In addition, the province is also prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public spaces, workplaces and in vehicles with passengers under the age of 16.

Both of those amendments will be into effect once they pass in the House of Assembly.

"We simply don't know what's in them, basically. And you're substituting one form of inhalation for another," said Health Minister John Haggie. 

He said the province is "erring on the side of caution" and is bringing its laws in line with other jurisdictions.

Ministers John Haggie and Sherry Gambin Walsh announce changes to the way e-cigarettes and vapour shops are regulated. (CBC)

By next year, the province says the sale of e-cigarettes will also be banned in places where tobacco sales are banned. That's to come into effect July 1, 2017.

On that same date, e-cigarettes and accompanying products will need to be displayed in the same way as tobacco products found in retail locations.

Specialty "vape shops" will be treated similar to tobacco shops, "provided the only business conducted is the sale of e-cigarettes and associated products," the government said.

Vaping and e-cigarette promotional materials will not be allowed to be visible from outside the shop — including on its exterior.

Underage shoppers will not be allowed in vape shops.

Hookah bars or lounges will also be banned.

"We need to de-normalize smoking," said Sherry Gambin-Walsh, minister of child, youth and family services. "Our objective is to keep children and youth from smoking...and to protect the health of the public polulation."

Bill 35, once passed by the House of Assembly, will amend both the Tobacco Control Act and the Smoke-Free Environment Act. 

Harm reduction tool

"I think this will have an impact on the business, definitely," said the CEO of Avalon Vapor, Tristan Wall, who says store owners like him were not consulted about the changes.

Tristan Wall (left) of Avalon Vapor says his customers use electronic cigarettes while they're trying to give up tobacco.

"I think the government is afraid of this product re-normalizing the act of smoking," said Wall, who argued that's not what happens. "There's very little evidence to prove that these products will increase smoking rates."

Wall said the ingredients in e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer than tobacco.

"They are an effective harm reduction tool that can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer caused by tobacco smoke," he said.

"They shouldn't be restricted so that a smoker can't have access to them."

Wall said his shop is self-regulating and does not allow anyone under 19 in the store. 

Haggie, meanwhile, said there will be no restrictions on people who want to switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes. He said the legislative changes will just treat both products in the same way.