News / Ottawa

Five things about the City of Ottawa's proposed hookah ban

From herbal shisha advertising to medical cannabis vaping, Ottawa city staff want to crack down on public water-pipe puffing.

Shisha smokers may soon take their last puff at hookah cafes if Ottawa city councillors ban the public practice.

torstar news service

Shisha smokers may soon take their last puff at hookah cafes if Ottawa city councillors ban the public practice.

As Toronto’s hookah ban goes into effect this month, the City of Ottawa is looking at saying sayonara to shisha in public. Here are five provincial proposals on water pipe limits, which will go before Ottawa’s board of health on Monday.

Smoking shisha akin to smoking cigarettes

Currently, the provincial smoke-free law only applies to tobacco – not substances like water pipes, e-cigarettes, vaporizers or cannabis. The province wants to prohibit these non-tobacco substances in public places and hookah cafes. Similar bans across the country have incited outrage by business owners, claiming the laws discriminate against Middle Eastern traditions. But the staff report notes “growing evidence” of the harms of herbal shisha to the general public.

Youth targeted in e-cigarette ban

Ottawa Public Health staff want to quash the “misperception” among youth aged 18 to 24 that smoking a tobacco water pipe is safer than a cigarette. The staff report says the use of water-pipe usage has tripled among those aged 18 and up over six years – from three per cent in 2006 to 10 per cent in 2012. Further, youth who used e-cigarettes were about three times more likely to start dragging on traditional smokes. The city could also start regular inspections of e-cigarette vendors to make sure they’re not selling to minors.

Good-bye sweet e-cigarettes

As part of the push to dissuade minors from puffing on water pipes, Ottawa city staff want to ban the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes. There are a whopping 7,700 different flavours tailored for kids, like cotton candy and banana split. And they may not be a healthier option than flavoured cigarillos. The staff report says diacetyl, a flavouring chemical in the non-tobacco products, is linked to respiratory diseases. Last January, the province enacted a ban on flavoured tobacco, so this proposal expands on that.

What about medical cannabis?

It seems that those who puff for medical purposes won’t get an exception from this proposed law. In other words, if there’s a “no smoking” sign, that applies to all non-tobacco smokers. Staff point to “emerging evidence” that cannabis smoke is tinged with tar and similar chemicals as tobacco smoke. However, parents would be allowed to give their kids e-cigarettes for medical marijuana purposes.

Advertising e-cigarettes

The same health warning labels on cigarette packages may soon be seen on all shisha products. Currently, some businesses promote e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, but the city wants the province to take its smoking law a step further in restricting these types of ads. The nicotine patch is a healthier way to quit, say city staff.

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