Nova Scotia

N.S. health minister promises action on vaping, but offers no timelines

The province’s health minister is promising changes in the way vaping is regulated in Nova Scotia, but those changes appear unlikely to come in the form of a bill proposed by the Official Opposition.

Tory Leader Tim Houston calls on the government to be a leader on the issue

The Progressive Conservatives have a bill before the House that would ban flavoured products and restrict where and how vape products can be sold. (Steven Senne/The Associated Press)

The province's health minister is promising changes to the way vaping is regulated in Nova Scotia, but those changes appear unlikely to come in the form of a bill proposed by the Official Opposition.

On Wednesday, MLAs at Province House debated legislation put forward by the Tories that would see flavoured vape products banned and greater restrictions put on who can possess vape materials and how they're sold.

During debate, Sackville-Cobequid MLA Steve Craig said it may be that vaping helps people who smoke cigarettes break that habit, but it's also become clear that some products are targeting young people who don't already smoke, taking advantage of a lack of regulations similar to what's in place for cigarettes.

"I look at vaping as a gateway drug to tobacco and nicotine," said the Tory MLA.

Dartmouth East MLA Tim Halman said bringing in restrictions on who can possess vaping products and where they're sold is an exercise in preventive health care at a time when vaping rates are ballooning among young people and questions are being raised about the long-term effects of the practice.

"There has to be a resistance because we know there are enormous health implications," he said.

Waiting to see what Ottawa does

In an interview, Health Minister Randy Delorey said the government recognizes the need to address the health concerns and trends they're seeing associated with vaping and they'll do that based on advice from public health officials.

"We are going to be making changes to the flavours within the e-cigarette marketplace," he said.

Delorey said there isn't a timeline yet for when changes will come because they're waiting to see what might come of a federal government evaluation of vaping.

"We need to understand exactly how the federal government is moving and how long and that helps inform if we're going to move on certain aspects," he said.

Be a leader, says Tory leader

But Tory Leader Tim Houston said he thinks the province should be a leader on the issue.

"There's no reason why Nova Scotia can't stand up and say, 'This is not a good thing, we're not happy with the youth vaping rates,'" he said in an interview.

"They can lead on this. They don't need to hide behind government studies, they don't need to hide behind some other level of government. They need to put the marker in the ground that they care about the youth of this province and they don't want them to vape."

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said his party is "very taken aback" by what they're seeing with emerging health risks and his caucus is in favour of taking a hard look at restrictions related to vaping use and products.

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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