Toronto's medical officer of health wants to change rules on vaping

Toronto’s medical officer of health wants both the city and the federal government to change their regulations on vaping.

At next Tuesday’s board of health meeting, the medical officer will recommend an amendment to existing city bylaws that prohibit smoking to also include vaping products.

"I am concerned about the health effects related to vaping and we need to create environments that prevent people from using these products and reduce the appeal to youth,” Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a statement. “I commend the Ontario government for recently re-enacting regulations to prohibit advertising and promotion at retail stores that are accessible to minors.”

Toronto’s bylaw prohibits smoking within nine metres of an entrance or exit of any public building. Anyone who violates the bylaw can face a $300 fine for their first offence, or $5,000 for any further offences.

The current bylaw does not extend to vaping.

In the news release issued Monday, Toronto Public Health said that data has shown vaping can lead to sudden and severe lung injury. The agency said that as of Nov. 20, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 2,290 lung injury cases and 47 confirmed deaths associated with the inhalation of aerosols from vaping products.

City staff said that Canada-wide, between 2017 and 2018, there was a more than 70 per cent increase in the number of youth using vapour products.

“More actions are needed to further protect the public from the health risks associated with these products,” de Villa said.

MEDIA RELEASE: Toronto Public Health releases report on vaping and vapour products. More info: https://t.co/u3E4VrAmXV

— Toronto Public Health (@TOPublicHealth) December 2, 2019

The Ontario Lung Association said on Monday that she was behind the recommendation “100 per cent.”

“In British Columbia they’ve pushed through some changes they’d like to see in their legislation, where there would be limitations on the use of flavours, so it would be prohibited,” Christina Sperling, the senior director for programs and services at the Ontario Lung Association, said. “As well as tax that would be applied that would be significant”

The City of Toronto has already launched a review of rules that would allow vaping products to be advertised on city properties like bus shelters and has signed off on plans to require licences for retailers selling them.

In addition to changing Toronto bylaws, the Toronto Board of Health is also calling on the federal government to prohibit vaping product advertising and promotion in places where minors can access it. They also want to set a nicotine concentration limit on the products and prohibit the sale of flavoured products in stores accessible to minors.

In October, the provincial government said it will ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations. Health Minister Christine Elliott said that the decision was made in response to new research that showed vaping was being used by more and more young people.

The province-wide ban takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.