Toronto medical officer calls for e-cigarette ban

Toronto's medical officer of health wants the city to consider bylaws that would ban the use of e-cigarettes everywhere smoking is banned.

Report calls for bylaws to prohibit e-cigarettes where smoking is banned if province doesn't act

Toronto's chief medical officer wants the province to enact legislation that would ban the use of e-cigarettes anywhere smoking is prohibited. (CBC)

Toronto's medical officer of health wants the city to ban the use of e-cigarettes anywhere smoking is prohibited if the province doesn't enact its own legislation to restrict their use by next year.

Dr. David McKeown would like to see the province prohibit the electronic devices anywhere smoking is prohibited, and restrict sales to minors.

And if the province fails to act by next February, he'd like to see the city pass its own bylaws.

A Toronto Public Health report has raised concerns about e-cigarette safety and exposure to second-hand smoke.

E-cigarettes are battery operated devices that mimic the use — and sometimes the appearance — of tobacco cigarettes. They do not contain tobacco and produce vapour instead of smoke.

While proponents of e-cigarettes say they offer a safer alternative to smoking, health officials are concerned they normalize smoking behaviour, initiate young people to smoking and can undermine existing tobacco control laws.

McKeown's report also warns e-cigarettes are increasingly being marketed to younger consumers.

E-cigarettes that contain nicotine are regulated under the Food and Drug Act and must be approved for sale by Health Canada. While no such e-cigarettes have market authorization in Canada, McKeown says they are easy to obtain  "whether through certain retailers or online."

Some tout e-cigarettes as a way for smokers to quit or cut back, but McKeown's report says their effectiveness as a cessation aid "has not been proven."

McKeown's report will be considered by the Toronto Board of health meeting on Aug. 18.