Is it safe and legal to smoke an e-cigarette with kids in the car?

Great article looking at the legality of vaping in your car with children.

I vape in my truck. Sometimes I have my grandchildren along. Is it safe to vape around them? And will I get a ticket for vaping with kids in the truck? — Donna

At least so far, there’s no solid evidence that the mist from electronic cigarettes is dangerous to bystanders – including kids along with you in the car, says researcher Igor Burstyn.


“If you have a kid in your car and they’re feeling sick, what do you do first? You stop the car, you get out of the car and maybe you stop vaping and see whether the kid feels better,” says Burstyn, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “But to compare it to smoking is utterly ridiculous — it’s like saying that if you have a nerf gun, then you might as well use real bullets because a gun is a gun.”

The Oxford English Dictionary added the word vaping last year – along with sexting, crowdfunding and photobombing. Because electronic cigarettes don’t contain tobacco and don’t emit smoke, when you use them, you vape.

An atomizer heats the juice in the flavour cartridge – water, chemical flavours like Macaron De Paris, Waikiki Watermelon and Oatmeal cookie, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin – and turns it into vapour.

Unlike cigarettes which produce smoke the whole time they’re lit, e-cigarettes only produce vapour when inhaled.

So far, Health Canada has not regulated e-cigarettes.

“Health Canada is still hiding under their desks on this one,” says University of Ottawa law professor David Sweanor. “They have no regulations in place – no system of disclosures or approvals.”

Under the Food and Drug Act, any product containing nicotine has to be approved by Health Canada before it can be imported, advertised or sold. Because Health Canada hasn’t approved any e-juice containing nicotine, it’s not allowed to be sold here.

“Nicotine is still available — you can get it over the Internet,” says Scott McDonald, CEO of the B.C. Lung Association.

Illegal to smoke with kids in the car?

In May, Quebec will be the final province to make it illegal to smoke with kids in cars, says Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. Right now, it’s illegal to smoke in cars with kids under 16 in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. In Alberta and the Yukon, that age is 18. In Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island it’s 19.

While the dangers of second-hand smoke are well known, one in 10 Canadian kids is still exposed to second-hand smoke in cars on a daily basis, Callard says.

But what about vaping with kids in cars?

Vaping in cars with anyone under the age of 19 is banned in Nova Scotia.

In the last year, Manitoba and Ontario have proposed making it illegal to vape with kids in vehicles. So far, those plans have been delayed.

“In the coming months, we will move to restrict where e-cigarettes can be used,” says Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term care in an e-mail statement. “As always, we welcome continued input from all stakeholders as we work together to help protect Ontario’s youth from the dangers of tobacco and the potential harms of e-cigarettes.”

What’s in the vapour?

Studies have found e-cigarette vapour increases indoor air pollution.

Others have found carcinogens including formaldehyde. Another recent Harvard study tested 51 brands of e-juice and found diacetyl in 47 of them. That chemical had been found in artificial butter flavouring and caused an irreversible lung disease – “popcorn lung” – in workers.

Until there’s more conclusive research on the safety of second-hand vaping, it’s a good idea not to vape in a vehicle if you have kids with you, says the BC Lung Association.

“With vaping, it’s not really known what the contents are — potentially, people are mixing in it up in their garage or in a basement somewhere in China,” says the Lung Association’s McDonald. “There’s very little disclosure of the vaping liquid and when it is disclosed, it’s usually just a long list of chemically-sounding names.”

The Lung Association believes people should inhale nothing except “fresh, clean air,” McDonald says.

Burstyn, who wrote a 2014 paper looking at whether contaminants in e-cigarette vapour exceeded workplace exposure standards, says “we have a pretty good idea what’s in e-cigarettes.”

“There are patents and there have been thousands of analyses,” he says. “These are all known chemicals – some like formaldehyde have been studied for years.”

The levels in e-cig vapour all meet workplace safety limits, Burstyn says.

“If you’re working in a factory and there are these levels in the air, you would not be worried,” Burstyn says. “You and I are inhaling formaldehyde right now as we speak – it does not mean these levels are harmful.”

There’s no evidence that vaping is “100 per cent safe” and there is evidence that the vapour can cause problems for people with pre-existing health conditions, Burstyn says.

But, it’s replacing smoking, which is a known killer, he says.

“It’s nothing like smoking tobacco – it gives that nicotine hit and flavour without the harm and risk of cigarettes,” he says. “I don’t smoke, I don’t vape – I just look at the numbers and see that it reduces smoking and has no discernible harm to bystanders.”

And, in most Canadian cities, you’re breathing in a lot more than clean, fresh air anyway.

“I don’t think e-cigs are adding very much to the risk caused by air pollution,” he says.

JASON TCHIR Special to The Globe and Mail


Canada to Regulate E-Cigarettes; Recommendations from the Standing Committee on Health


This March the Standing Committee of Health produced a report outlining recommendations for the regulation of E-cigarettes based off of evidence collected from eight meetings with a total of thirty-three witnesses, including government officials, health officials, manufacturers, and users of the devices.  Overall  it looks hopeful, and potentially  good news for vapers in Canada.  You can read the full report here.


The Good:

  • Recommendation 1:  That the Government of Canada financially supports research on the health effects of E-cigs (potential risks and benefits), and their impact on the uptake of nicotine products by youth and on other tobacco control efforts (renormalization and potential gateway effects).  We feel that this is good because currently the claims against e-cigarettes are not supported by evidence, and conducting research is more likely to dispel disparaging attitudes than create new ones.
  • Recommendation 2:  That the Government of Canada works with all affected stakeholders to establish a new legislative framework for regulating electronic cigarettes.  This is awesome because it means that they will not be regulated as tobacco, or medical products (won’t be required to have a prescription to obtain a vape etc).
  • Recommendation 7:  Establish standards relating to the safety of all components of electronic cigarettes, and also require manufacturers and importers of electronic cigarettes to disclose information relating to ingredients.   We feel  that it’s important for consumers to have full disclosure.
  • Recommendation 8:  Require electronic cigarette components be sold in child resistant packaging, and that all packaging clearly and accurately indicate the concentration of nicotine and contain appropriate safety warnings about the product.  This recommendation makes sense, and would certainly improve the safety of vaping.
  • Recommendation 9:  Prohibit electronic cigarette manufacturers from making unproven health claims.    We couldn’t agree with this more!
  • Recommendation 10:  Prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes or other electronic nicotine delivery systems to person under the age of 18.  Most retailers are already enforcing this rule, ourselves included.

The Bad:

  • Recommendation 5:  Electronic Cigarettes be required to be visually distinct from other tobacco products (ie not look like a cigarette, like our e-dart).   This recommendation is based off of the fear that vaping may re-normalize tobacco use, and as outlined in recommendation 1 there currently is not enough evidence to support the claim. 
  • Recommendation 6:  Establish maximum levels of nicotine contained in electronic cigarette liquid or vapour.   This could pose unnecessary limitations on consumers , as the amount of nicotine considered to be safe in e-liquid is well over the amount currently found in even the highest concentrations available.

The Ugly:

  • Recommendation 11:  Prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems in federally regulated public spaces.  This would prohibit vaping in bars, restaurants, and other places that may want to cater to vapers. 
  • Recommendation 12:  Restrictions for advertising and promotional activities for these products.  This recommendation greatly imposes on businesses and consumers ability to connect with appropriate harm reduction devices. 
  • Recommendation 14:  Prohibit the use of flavourings in electronic cigarette liquids that are specifically designed to appeal to youth, such as candy flavourings.  This recommendation comes from the baseless idea that youth, whom are mostly mimicking adult behaviors when they engage in smoking may be drawn to vaping because of candy flavours.  A large amount of vapers prefer sweet and fruity flavours, and this would pose unnecessary restrictions on them.

Overall the recommendations to regulate e-cigarettes are very reasonable, other than the few that lack supporting evidence to warrant their creation (in their current forms).  While some of the recommendations are not favourable  we feel positive that if The Canadian Government continues to work with all stakeholders and pays close attention to research coming forward in support of vaping we will have a world class regulatory system.

US to ban e-cigarette sales to minors — is Canada Next?

After many years of neglect, the U.S. food and drug administration has finally proposed a rule that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.   In our humble opinion, this is something that should have been addressed years ago.  This long awaited proposal would be the first federal regulation of electronic cigarettes in the US.

This ruling will be a step towards broader restrictions in the US, after many years of a ‘wild west’ attitude, with no regulations at all.  Other areas that will be looked at is the advertising of e-cigarettes, and the flavoring options of e-cigarettes.  Critics of advertising of e-cigarettes state that it risks introducing young people to electronic cigarettes in the first place.  Others believe that having appropriate warnings for electronic cigarettes — i.e. only for use by adults over the age of 18 on advertisements would be a much better option.  Some have argued that the flavouring options; Cotton Candy, and fruit flavours for example, appeal to younger people and should therefore be banned.  FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the current proposal “lays the foundation for many more actions and activities.

How will this affect Canadians?  Likely not too much in the foreseeable future.  Health Canada is typically very slow and methodical to react to anything, and often waits to see how other Countries decisions and actions effect their system before taking any action.  Health Canada’s response to the US restriction for sale to minors simply said this:  “(We are) monitoring the actions of regulators in other jurisdictions, and considering all options for appropriate oversight of these products“.    I guess only time will tell, however if the past is any indication fo the future, any regulations that take place in the US will likely be copied very slowly in Canada.