TORONTO – Ontario is banning e-cigarette and medical marijuana users from smoking or vaporizing anywhere regular cigarettes are prohibited.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the move is common sense.
“We have made a determination that smoking, whatever it is — whether it’s vaping, whether it’s medical marijuana, whether it’s cigarettes — that there should be restrictions on that,” she said Thursday. “And so the rules will apply to marijuana, to medical marijuana, to vaping as they do to cigarettes.”
The new rules come months after the Liberal government backtracked on electronic cigarette regulations just one day after an exemption for medical marijuana users came to light.
The e-cigarette rules were supposed to come into effect Jan. 1 to ban their use in enclosed public places, workplaces and certain outdoor areas.
But after the public learned of a medical marijuana exemption and that it meant users could vaporize in restaurants, at work or on playgrounds, the government put the rules on hold and went back to the drawing board.
Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla said last fall that it was too early to tell whether or not the original exemption was a failure.
Jonathan Zaid, the founder of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, had applauded the original exemption, saying users need their medication to live a better quality of life.
He said Thursday he is disappointed the government has reversed its position.
“I thought the government was willing to work with medical cannabis users to create a regulation and an exemption that works for both the public health and public safety and medical marijuana users, but it seems like this backtrack has kind of made it fully inaccessible for people to use their medicine, which I believe is against their human rights.”
The new regulations, which are posted for consultation, expand the definition of e-cigarette to include “e-substance,” expand the list of places where e-cigarettes cannot be sold and set out rules for their display and promotion.
On Jan. 1 it became illegal to sell or supply e-cigarettes to anyone under 19, but the new regulations allow parents or guardians to supply them to minors for medical marijuana purposes.
A vaporizer is defined as an electronic cigarette or other device that contains a power source and heating element that’s designed to heat a substance to produce a vapour to be inhaled through the mouth.