Nova Scotia wants your thoughts on flavoured tobacco
Province seeking input on planned changes to e-cigarette laws
The battle between the province, smokers and those who sell and use vaporizers will heat up again in the new year.
During the fall sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature, the McNeil government backed down from an all-out ban on flavoured tobacco and the e-juices used in e-cigarettes and vaporizers.
That’s after dozens of people showed up during public hearings to denounce Bill 60, which would amend the province’s Smoke-Free Places Act and the Tobacco Access Act.
At the time, the bill included a ban on the sale of flavoured tobacco and e-juices.
E-cigs, vaporizers banned in public
The governing Liberals amended their own bill to remove those provisions, but went ahead with outlawing the use of e-cigarettes, vaporizers and hookahs in all places where traditional smoking is banned.
The plan for January and February is to consult on what flavours should be banned when it comes to tobacco and whether that ban should extend to e-juices too.
Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer, says the aim remains the same: to protect youth.
"The question we're looking at is knowing the government is committed to banning flavoured tobacco products. We're looking for input — are their any products that really only oriented and used only by adults that we should consider exempting from that ban?"
The province is in the process of setting up an online survey. It plans to commission a telephone public opinion poll.
Officials will also meet with retailers and hold focus groups.
Strang wants to hear from young people in particular.
We have avoided a whole bunch of costs in the health care system, from heart attacks to lung cancers.- Dr. Robert Strang
“That’s one of the key questions," said Strang. “When we engage youth on their perspective on this and how does the sale of these products being on the market impact them and their likelihood of using tobacco.”
Many who objected to the government’s original bill spoke passionately about the success they had switching from smoking to vaping.
But Strang says the evidence remains inconclusive about just how effective the switch is as a smoking cessation tool.
“For some it helps, he said. “For many others it may hurt and we may also bringing youth into starting using tobacco products, so overall the jury is still very much out. Do e-cigarettes help or hurt?”
Province out millions in tobacco taxes
What is clear is the number of Nova Scotians who have stopped smoking or switched from tobacco to vaping is hurting the province’s bottom line.
According to the latest figures, Nova Scotia expects to collect $15 million less than projected in tobacco taxes this year.
E-juices are not taxed at the high rate traditional tobacco is.
But Strang says those so-called losses are likely offset.
"We have avoided a whole bunch of costs in the health care system from heart attacks to lung cancers to asthma visits, a whole range of things by having less smoking, so we've got to look at both sides of the financial equation."
Whatever the province decides, the plan is to have yet another law ready for the spring sitting of the legislature.
“[The] target is the have that legislation ready to be implemented May 31, 2015," said Strang.
It will come into force “along with the recently passed legislation dealing with e-cigarettes and hookah.”