Young B.C. boy buys e-cigarette, sparking calls for regulations
Published Tuesday, January 28, 2014 6:08PM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 28, 2014 7:13PM PST
B.C.’s medical health officer wants a crackdown on selling products that mimic cigarette smoke – even if there’s no nicotine – after an 11-year-old bought an e-cigarette at a Tsawwassen store.
Dr. Perry Kendall says while there’s no rules around the sale of nicotine free e-cigarettes – which come with kid-friendly flavours like “grape sensation” or “cherry bomb” – they have a potential to hook kids.
“This is an unregulated product,” Kendall said. “There’s a danger they become attractive to younger people.”
Kendall was speaking after hearing news that an 11-year-old boy was sold a nicotine-free e-cigarette in December.
The boy’s father, Joe Braico, told CTV News he thought his son had purchased a cigarette.
“He showed me, he was trying to blow smoke rings with the thing. I was shocked,” he said.
Braico marched down to the Lottery Ticket Centre in Tsawwassen to demand a refund and an apology.
“These are not toys,” he said.
The $10 e-cigarette just produces vapour with a flavor, with a battery and a light at one end designed to look similar to embers.
Jasper Lee, who operates the Lottery Centre, said he thought selling the cigarette was as harmless as selling a candy cigar.
“I thought it was like this,” he told CTV News, pulling a box of the licorice candy from behind the counter. “I’m very sorry.”
Lee says his store won’t sell any more nicotine-free e-cigarettes to children, and wants the B.C. government to draw up clear guidelines.
Health Canada must approve any nicotine products before they hit shelves, and none have been approved, so none are legally for sale in this country, an agency spokesman said.
But non-nicotine containing cigarettes are only regulated for safety at a basic level, he said.
It’s up to the province to regulate the sale of the products to minors, as is the case with liquor or cigarette age limits. The B.C. health ministry told CTV News in a statement they were still examining the issue.
The Vancouver School Board and the Surrey School Board both don’t allow e-cigarettes on school grounds, even if they don’t have nicotine, to avoid the habits that can form among impressionable children.
“A lot of people start smoking before they are 18, and this is where lifelong smoking habits can start,” said Lord Byng vice-principal Alec MacInnes.
MacInnes said he hasn’t seen any e-cigarettes on school grounds, and added that smoking appears to be on the decline at his school.