No ifs, ands, or butts about it.
The Ontario government is banning all flavoured tobacco — including menthol — and vaporizing e-cigarettes for teenagers and curbing their use throughout the province.
Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla on Monday unveiled sweeping legislation that would treat the unregulated electronic smokes like traditional cigarettes.
“If young kids see people smoking or ‘vaping,’ they’re more likely to take up smoking or ‘vaping,’” Damerla told a Queen’s Park news conference.
“It’s the wild west right now,” she said.
Under the proposed law, the sale and consumption of e-cigarettes would be banned for anyone under 19 years old as of Jan. 1, 2016 and their use would restricted to the same places as regular cigarettes.
Scofflaws would face cash fines.
Currently, e-cigarettes can be used anywhere — including places where cigarettes have long since been banished from, such as bars, restaurants, and other public spaces.
At the same time, flavoured tobacco, which cigarette companies often use to lure young smokers, will be outlawed, though the prohibition on menthol will be phased in.
Damerla noted the government will also step up the fight against untaxed contraband tobacco, as Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced last week.
Dr. Scott Wooder, past president of the Ontario Medical Association, said the measures “will save lives.”
“Ontario’s doctors welcome this legislation that works to protect our children from flavoured tobacco products and reduce the number of youth who start smoking,” said Wooder.
The Liberal bill is inspired by NDP MPP France Gélinas (Nickel Belt), who has been pushing for a ban on flavoured tobacco since 2008.
Also Monday, Damerla announced the government would revive legislation requiring fast food chains to post calories on menus.
It would make Ontario the first province in Canada to have a menu-labelling law on the books.
While the proposed bill only targets calories, it’s possible other health information, such as sodium counts, could be added down the road.