E-cigarettes have turned up in the classroom, and students are using the products to smoke during class, sparking calls for a ban on the products inside Winnipeg schools.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that mimic the use, appearance, and taste of conventional cigarettes. When inhaled, a liquid solution is heated and vapourized.
E-cigarettes can be imported, advertised and sold across Canada without restrictions, so long as they're not sold with nicotine and aren't advertised as health products. Manufacturers can't label the products as quit-smoking aids or as a healthy alternative to traditional smoking.
Being relatively new to the market, most Canadian schools don't have formal rules about them. Now that the e-cigarettes are showing up in classrooms, Winnipeg School Division Trustee Anthony Ramos wants to change the rules about e-smoking inside school buildings.
Users like Grade 12 student Maggie Matysiak argue that the products have helped them quit smoking, and should be encouraged as a deterrent to traditional cigarettes.
Matysiak told CTV Winnipeg that she uses e-cigarettes inside Ecole Secondaire Kelvin, and teachers and classmates haven't stopped her.
Although Matysiak hasn't been stopped, at least one Kelvin student said she's annoyed with the habit. Shayna Evans said she finds the devices distracting even though she sees students smoking them in class every day.
"It's a huge cloud of smoke and it's just very distracting. I'm surprised some of the teachers are OK with it," Evans told CTV Winnipeg, noting that other teachers are not.
Though fellow e-smoker Susanna Dack has used e-cigarettes for six months, in an effort to cut back on cigarettes, she said she would support a ban in schools out of respect for others.
"There's nothing wrong with these, but at the same time you don't smoke in the classroom, you don't smoke in the schools," Dack said.
The school board is expected to vote on Ramos' motion on Monday night.
Last week, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority issued a statement saying that e-cigarette restrictions were being considered, but more long-term research needed to be conducted before issuing a formal position.
Other e-cigarette bans
In August, Toronto banned city employees from using the products in municipal work places, following in the footsteps of Red Deer, Alta. where the products were banned in June. In Red Deer, the products are treated like traditional cigarettes and users are banned from smoking them in public places.
Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine has told local media he hopes to introduce legislation to address e-cigarettes in the fall session.
Last December, New York City passed a bill banning e-cigarette use in restaurants, bars and clubs, and vaping is banned in public places in Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg's Josh Crabb