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E-cigarette use to be restricted, flavoured tobacco to be banned in Ontario

11/24/2014 05:57 EST | Updated 01/24/2015 05:59 EST
The Ontario government will move to restrict the use of electronic cigarettes and treat them much the same as regular cigarettes.

Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla amde the announcement at a new conference on Monday morning.

The law, which will be introduced on Monday, will effectively ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is already prohibited. They will also be banned for anyone under 19 from buying, just as cigarettes are currently treated.

The law is also expected to ban flavoured tobacco products, which are especially popular with young people. As well, menthol cigarettes will be eventually phased out.

"We know that over 19,000 young Ontario smokers use menthol, and that they smoke more cigarettes and have the intention to smoke longer, than non-menthol smokers​," said Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco​. "The ban may have a greater positive impact among young menthol smokers, many of whom are not as heavily addicted as adult smokers​."

Smoking to be banned on all patios

The government will also step up penalties for anyone caught selling e-cigarettes to anyone underage. And smoking tobacco of any kind will be banned on all outdoor patios — currently, it's only forbidden on covered patios.

If the bill passes, the ban on sale to minors would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The ban on using e-cigarettes in public places would come into effect a year later on New Year's Day.

E-cigarettes don't contain tobacco and produce vapour instead of smoke, which proponents say helps smokers kick their habit.

Some public health advocates say they're concerned that it's also "normalizing" cigarette smoking for minors, giving a dangerous habit that's widely restricted a whole new image.

In August, Premier Kathleen Wynne said her government would look into the issue but that she wouldn't rush into a decision on whether to ban electronic cigarettes in areas where smoking is already off-limits.

"This legislation will protect our children and youth from the deadly effects of tobacco use," said Mark Holland, executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A separate part of the legislation will force restaurants, bars and grocery stores to disclose the number of calories in alcoholic drinks.

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