Friday, May 22, 2015

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS: BRING FORTH THE LEGISLATION ON E-CIGS

As a community advocate, often I am engaged in trying to establish or influence the public policy agenda. One of the hardest balances is attempting to be judicious when it comes to going public. You shouldn't do this every time; it can make your group look reactionary and whiny.

Over the past year, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils has been very vocal in trying to convince the provincial government to follow the lead of other provinces  in banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

We stepped up our campaign last Fall after Canada's largest province, Ontario, brought forward progressive legislation restricting the use of electronic cigarettes, treating them much the same as regular cigarettes.

We recommended that Newfoundland and Labrador introduce legislation that subjects e-cigarettes to the same regulatory controls that are in place for tobacco products. These include but are not limited to:

  • All current and future smoke-free legislation and policies should include a statement that e-cigarettes are also prohibited under the policy.
  • No sales of e-cigarettes to those under 19 years of age
  • No sale of flavoured e-cigarettes
  • No display of e-cigarettes in retail establishments
  • No promotion/advertising of e-cigarettes

In November we met with the NL Alliance for the Control of Tobacco and agreed to combine forces to promote the need for regulation of this product which has the potential to addict more of our youth to tobacco and increase the smoking rate in our Province.

We feel electronic cigarettes are a major threat to tobacco control initiatives and they are a possible gateway to cigarette smoking for youth and has the potential to leave youth and others with the impression that smoking is the norm.

We were pleased to meet with the Ministers responsible for Health and Wellness to discuss our concerns. The response was very receptive and positive. In fact, Clyde Jackman, Minister of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development Minister of Advanced Education and Skills was clearly supportive and onside. We left the meeting knowing government was onside, engaged in studying the issues and committed to introducing legislation to act in a decisive way before this gateway to nicotine addiction and smoking initiation got a further hold on our youth.

Since that time vapor shops have popped up like Dandelions, selling all manner of e-cigarette and nicotine juice. Government has been studying the issue. The House of Assembly has been in session but no legislation has come forward.

Earlier this week, in response to questions from Liberal Health Critic Andrew Parsons, Premier Paul Davis said government is  is working on legislation to regulate e-cigarette sales in this province. I can not help but ask, where is the beef? Why has this simple legislation not been drafted and  brought to the House of Assembly? Why the delay? Obviously it is not a priority or it would have been part of the Spring Legislative agenda.

I welcome the reaffirmation of the commitment to join Ontario, Nova Scotia and other provinces but  action speaks louder than rhetoric in these politically opportunistic  times.

Bring forth the Legislation before the House of Assembly closes in June.

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