Jul 4, 2018

Ford government pauses Liberal laws including vaping laws

Halted laws would regulate vaping similiarly to smoking
By Shawn Jeffords

TORONTO (CP) -- A number of laws passed by Ontario's previous Liberal government have been put on hold by the newly elected Progressive Conservative regime, including measures to tighten rules around vaping.

A spokesman for the Progressive Conservatives said Wednesday the new government, which was sworn in Friday, wants more time to consult and examine the laws before they come into effect.

Simon Jefferies said the government will delay the implementation of new rules around vaping, which would have regulated the activity in much the same way as smoking.

"The government will work with the public, experts, and businesses to re-examine the evidence related to vaping as a smoking cessation tool to ensure that any changes are in the best interests of everyone and protect Ontarians' health and safety," he said in a statement.

Halting the new regulations will not change the current provisions in the Smoke Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act, he said.

Maria Papaioannoy-Duic, spokeswoman for the Vapor Advocates of Ontario, lauded Premier Doug Ford and new Health Minister Christine Elliott for the move.

Vaping advocates have argued that the activity is safer than smoking and moves people from the toxic chemicals found in tobacco to an alternative, which can help them break their habit.

"We're excited that the government ... (has) recognized our efforts and have paused the implementation of these regulations,'' she said in a statement. "We have the utmost confidence that they are going to look at the regulations based on science and not guesswork.''

Joe Mihevc, the chair of Toronto's Board of Health and a city councillor who once served alongside Ford, said he questions the decision to pause the legislation. Public health units across Ontario have studied the impacts of vaping and agreed with the restrictions the previous government's laws placed on the product, he said.

Mihevc said he believes that once the government digs in and does its own research it's likely to find claims that vaping is an effective tool to help smoking cessation aren't true.

"We considered it a closed action'' once the bill was passed by the Liberals, he said. "I also wonder what public health evidence, not lobbyist energy, is being used to resurrect this as a live issue?''

The Tory government will also delay changes to immunization reporting rules which Ontario's doctors had argued would burden them with excessive paperwork.

The legislature is expected to be recalled for a summer session next week, and Ford is expected to give a throne speech laying out his government's priorities.

Randy Hillier, a longtime Tory legislator, said Wednesday he will run to be Speaker of the House because he wants to elevate the level debate in the legislature.

The speaker acts an impartial arbiter over debate and is selected at the start of every new term by a secret ballot of legislators.

So far, Hillier is the only declared candidate for the job.