In recent years, vaping has soared in popularity as a purportedly safer alternative to smoking tobacco. And it has drastically reduced smoking in teens. With its rise, a wave of questions has followed, ranging from the health implications of vaping to where it’s appropriate to use e-cigarettes and its legality in Canada.
Among these queries is one that many Canadians ponder: “Can you vape and drive?” Is it similar to smoking tobacco in your vehicle? Or does it enter the realm of distracted or impaired driving? To answer these questions, we’ll dive deep into the legal and safety aspects of vaping while behind the wheel. Is there a vaping guide regarding driving? Keep reading to find out.
Is It Illegal to Vape While Driving in Canada?
The short answer is it depends. For instance, smoking tobacco is generally allowed unless you’re in a motor vehicle with minors or a vehicle with permanent sleeping accommodations or cooking facilities. But vaping laws are more complex and less consistent.
Police Officer Insights
If a police officer catches you vaping in a manner that appears to affect your driving, you could be pulled over for distracted driving. Distracted driving laws in Canada are pretty stringent. They don’t solely apply to texting or talking on a portable electronic device while driving. Anything that takes your attention away from the road can be grounds for a ticket or more severe penalties.
Medical Cannabis User Considerations
For medical vape users, the waters are even murkier. While medical cannabis is legal in Canada, laws surrounding the ability to consume cannabis and drive are strict.
If your vaping liquid contains THC, you’re stepping into impaired driving. Even if you’re a medical cannabis user, driving under the influence is illegal and could result in severe penalties, including potential jail time.
Distracted Driving- The Legal Implications
As vaping gains traction among Canadians, so does the debate around its safety—particularly when it involves operating a motor vehicle. While the concept of distracted driving traditionally invokes images of texting or navigating with electronic devices, vaping while driving falls in this category.
Blowing Thick Clouds and Windshield Obstruction
One of the most problematic issues is blowing thick clouds, which can significantly distract. Electronic cigarette vapor is often denser than traditional cigarettes, leading to thicker clouds.
These clouds may obscure vision, putting the driver and other road users at risk. If a police officer notices you vaping in a way that interferes with your driving, you may be cited for distracted driving.
Sanitary Facilities and Permanent Cooking Interiors
Interestingly, vaping inside a motor vehicle equipped with permanent cooking or sanitary facilities, like an RV, could raise additional concerns. The thick clouds of vapor may deposit residues. In the long run, this might affect the cleanliness and safety of the interior.
Second-Hand Smoke Concerns
Let’s not forget that e-cigarettes produce vapor that contains various chemicals. This poses potential second-hand smoke risks to passengers. It’s especially critical for vehicles that carry passengers, such as ride-sharing cars or family vans, as the chemicals can pose health risks to others inside the vehicle.
How to Avoid Vaping Being a Distraction
Awareness is the first step toward minimizing risks. So, here are some tips for those who wish to balance their e-cigarette use without compromising road safety.
Know Your Device
Not all electronic devices are created equal. Some produce thicker clouds than others. If you’re set on vaping while driving, consider devices that produce less vapor to reduce the risk of windshield obstruction.
No Passengers, No Vaping
If you carry passengers, especially minors, abstain from vaping entirely. The potential health implications from second-hand exposure are hazy, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Choose the Right Time and Place
If you find the craving too strong to resist, pull to a safe location to vape. Never try to refill your electronic cigarette or adjust its settings while driving. These actions can easily turn your electronic device into a hazardous distraction.
Keep Windows Open or Use Ventilation
Opening the windows or using ventilation will disperse vapor more quickly. That way, you can reduce visual obstructions and the concentration of potentially harmful substances in the vehicle.
Where Should You Put Your Vaping Device While Driving?
Finding a spot to place your vaping device while driving is more than just a matter of convenience. It’s also a safety concern. So, take note of the following points:
Glove Compartment- Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Storing your device in the glove compartment is a surefire way to avoid reaching while driving. Plus, this keeps the device secure and less likely to become a projectile in case of a sudden stop or accident.
Cup Holder- Convenient but Risky
While placing your e-cigarette in the cup holder is convenient, it can become a significant distraction. The visual and physical accessibility will tempt you to use the device, diverting your attention from the road.
Secure Pockets or Attachments
Some drivers prefer specialized pockets or attachments that hold the device securely, making it easily accessible when the vehicle is not in motion.
Health Risks To Consider
It’s essential also to consider the health risks of vaping while driving. Now that we have your attention, let’s explain further.
One common ingredient in many e-liquids is vegetable glycerin. Although generally considered safe, it has some side effects, like causing light-headedness, especially when consumed in large amounts.
Compared to Smoking Tobacco
It’s not uncommon for people to switch from smoking tobacco to vaping, thinking it’s a healthier option. While vaping doesn’t produce tar and some other harmful components found in tobacco smoke, it’s crucial to note that e-cigarettes are not entirely risk-free.
First Offence for Impaired Driving
If you experience light-headedness due to vegetable glycerin or other vaping ingredients while driving, you risk getting a ticket for impaired driving. A first offense may have significant consequences, including fines, license suspension, and jail time.
Caution When Switching Substances
When switching from tobacco, carefully gauge how the body reacts to the different substances. Because if you’re used to smoking tobacco while driving, you may be unaware of how vaping affects you differently.
Vaping while driving is a multifaceted issue with implications ranging from legal repercussions to health risks.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, the complexities are numerous. From vegetable glycerin distraction to the potential first offense for impaired or distracted driving, it’s advisable to err on the side of caution.
If you’re considering vaping behind the wheel, we strongly suggest you consider other safe options. For instance, you can pull over to a safe spot to vape or wait until you’ve reached your destination. You know what they say: better safe than sorry.