EDITORIAL: Going smoke-free

Smoking has long been a controversial issue, even before the public became aware of the health risks involved with inhaling cigarette smoke.

A suggestion by Interior Health has Nelson city council considering a move to increase the number of public smoke-free areas within the city.

We say bravo.

Smoking has long been a controversial issue, even before the public became aware of the health risks involved with inhaling cigarette smoke.

By increasing the number of public areas that don’t allow smoking, we decrease the ability of smokers to influence others — especially our children.

The saying “monkey see, monkey do” may be a little insulting, but the fact is children want to act like adults.

Smoking has been on the decline for years and if the city does create more smoke-free areas, that can only help the process.

But there is another challenge on the horizon.

A new product has hit store shelves with the potential to do great harm. Electronic “nicotine-free” cigarette-style vapourizers are designed to give smokers the pleasure and feeling of smoking a cigarette, without the nicotine and carcinogenic smoke.

While it is considered to be an alternative to smoking, there are drawbacks.

Many of the products do contain some nicotine and while the nicotine versions are not supposed to be sold in Canada, they are available online.

E-cigarettes are currently unregulated, therefore it is not illegal to sell the nicotine-free versions to minors.

This is problematic, because while e-cigarettes may be less harmful than cigarettes, their use by children normalizes and glamourizes tobacco, and could encourage them to take up smoking real cigarettes.

And many electronic cigarettes come in fruity flavours, which seem to be geared specifically for children.

Like cigarettes, a law needs to be created to make the sale of all these products restricted to adults only.

Interior Health currently has no official position on these products. Perhaps it’s time they should.

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