Pubdate: Wed, 20 Aug 2014
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Steve Buist
Page: A3


Councillors Concerned About Open Sales of Smoking Materials, 
Especially in School Neighbourhoods

A city councillor is hoping public health officials can find a way to 
restrict the display and sale of drug and pipe paraphernalia in 
Hamilton stores.

Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead is asking public health staff to 
see if current licensing rules can be employed to prevent convenience 
stores from openly displaying devices such as bongs and hookah pipes, 
which can be used for smoking drugs.

He also wants to explore the possibility of preventing their sale in 
stores that are within a certain distance of schools.

Whitehead's motion at last week's board of health meeting also seeks 
to ban the sale of such devices to people under the age of 18.

"I had some parents near a school who were concerned about pipe 
paraphernalia and drug paraphernalia," Whitehead said. "It was 
clearly displayed in a store and you've got an elementary school 
right across the street.

"It's prudent in today's society that we do whatever we can to 
protect our youth or at least make things a lot more challenging for 
those who want to venture into the dark side," Whitehead added.

Three months ago, fellow Councillor Sam Merulla raised concerns about 
another non-traditional smoking device - electronic cigarettes, which 
are not regulated in the same manner as tobacco products.

Merulla wants the province to provide some direction on a strategy 
for regulating e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered and filled 
with a liquid that contains certain solvents to produce a smokeless 
vapour that can be inhaled, mimicking the smoking experience.

Opinions are divided on whether e-cigarettes cause more harm than good.

While there are some direct health concerns - some users have 
nicotine added to the liquid, and the risks of inhaling the solvents 
over the long term aren't yet known - most of the debate centres on 
the psychological aspect of e-cigarettes.

Some users credit e-cigarettes as an effective way to stop smoking 
real cigarettes. Opponents, however, believe the use of e-cigarettes, 
particularly by young people, can normalize the behaviour of smoking 
and lead to tobacco consumption.

"I'm a little conflicted," said Merulla, the representative for Ward 
4. "If someone is using e-cigarettes and quitting smoking, from my 
perspective, that's a good thing.

"But if someone is going to use e-cigarettes and graduate to tobacco, 
that's a bad thing. The question is whether or not there's a 
correlation and what that correlation is."

Vancouver, Toronto and the province of Quebec are considering 
implementing regulations that would treat e-cigarettes in the same 
way as tobacco products, banning their use in certain public places.

Quebec's public health minister would also like to ban the sale of 
e-cigarettes to minors.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom