Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia drops parts of e-cigarette legislation

The Nova Scotia government is amending legislation that would regulate e-cigarettes so that flavoured juice used in the devices as well as flavoured tobacco would not be banned.

Cancer society disheartened over decision to back down on proposal to ban flavoured juice

The bill would also prohibit stores from selling e-cigarettes to those under 19 and retailers would also not be allowed to display, advertise or promote the devices, effectively treating them like regular cigarettes. (Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press)

The Nova Scotia government has introduced changes to legislation banning the use of e-cigarettes, water pipes and vaporizers in public places by dropping a proposal to prohibit flavoured juice and tobacco.  

Instead, it plans to consult with Nova Scotians on if certain flavours should be exempted from the proposed ban. 

"After reviewing the materials presented to the government at law amendments, it is clear we need further consultation," Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine said in a news release. "Our consultation will focus on products and flavours targeted at youth."

He said consultations with the public and stakeholders will take place within a year. 

The law also:

  • Makes it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.
  • Restricts vendors from displaying or advertising e-cigarettes.
  • Ensures shops that only sell e-cigarettes and ban minors can display the products inside the store.

A Nova Scotian woman who owns an e-cigarette business said she's willing to take legal action against the province.

Shai Sinnis runs The End Vapor Shop in New Glasgow and Truro. Her business describes itself as providing a "safer alternative for tobacco smokers" and encourages people to switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. 

She said her products contain no tobacco. 

"We really wanted to see the electronic cigarettes removed from the tobacco act, because that will ultimately affect all business in Nova Scotia," she said. 

Sinnis has emailed Glavine, called him, gone to his office, and even sent him "snail mail," but didn't hear back. She said she wants a chance to explain how her industry works to government and help them make evidence-based decisions. 

She said the legislation would close her business by forcing her to cover her products and limit what she could tell customers about them. She said she is willing to fight it in court. 

'Knee-jerk reaction'

The Canadian Cancer Society says it is disheartened by the flavouring decision. 

Barbara Stead-Coyle, the CEO of the society's Nova Scotia division, says the government's amendments to its legislation that would regulate e-cigarettes are a "knee-jerk reaction."

The changes come after some people spoke out at a legislature committee earlier this week saying the legislation as it was proposed had unintended consequences.

Some of those who appeared before the committee said e-cigarettes helped them quit smoking.

The legislation would still outlaw the use of water pipes such as hookahs and e-cigarettes in indoor public places.

NDP 'bewildered' by change

New Democrat MLA Dave Wilson, who formerly served as the health minister, said the Liberals were "caving in" and described himself as "bewildered" by the policy change. 

Smoke-Free Nova Scotia applauded the decision to ban vaping and e-cigarettes,  including hookahs, in public places. It said it will reduce the marketing of such products to children and argued the long-term effects of e-cigarettes remains unknown. 

"However, we are confused as to why the government has weakened its commitment to protect children and youth from flavourings in all tobacco products and e-juice," said President Krista McMullin.

"Obviously, Minister [Leo] Glavine had sufficient scientific evidence to introduce Bill 60 as a comprehensive tobacco control bill. We will be asking the minister what evidence is required for future legislation to regulate flavourings appealing to youth."

The new laws take effect on May 31, 2015. 

With files from The Canadian Press