Requirements under the Public Health Act and E-Substances Regulation

 

Laws around the sale, display, promotion, reporting and use of e-substances are in effect in British Columbia. All retailers and manufacturers of vapour products must meet the requirements of the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act, the Public Health Act, the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Regulation and the new E-Substances Regulation.

What is New?

The Ministry introduced new requirements related to the sale, display and promotion of vapour products under the newly enacted E-Substances Regulation under the Public Health Act. Existing vapour product retailers have a transition period until September 15, 2020 to comply with some of the new requirements.

Health hazards

Under the Public Health Act, a health hazard is a thing, condition, or activity that will or is likely to endanger public health. In addition, the Public Health Act enables health hazards to be identified and addressed in regulation. A health hazard can be a defined condition, thing or activity either associated with injury or illness, or which fails to meet a certain standard relating to health, injury or illness.

Prescribing certain types of vapour products as health hazards allows public health officials to better manage the risk of harm they pose, particularly to youth. Under the E-Substances Regulation the following will now be health hazards:

  • E-substances that contain non-therapeutic nicotine
  • E-substances that do not contain nicotine, nicotine salts or cannabis

Vapour products with contain “non-therapeutic nicotine” are health hazards under the Health Hazards Regulation. Non-therapeutic nicotine refers to nicotine which is not in the form of a drug for which a prescription is required or a product, such as nicotine gum or lozenge, which is intended to be sued or consumed for tobacco reduction or cessation purposes.

Under the E-Substances Regulation, the sales of these health hazards are a regulated activity. New restrictions on the sales of specific E-substances will be applied to retailers and business owners.

Sales Restrictions

Effective immediately:

  • All E-substances that do not contain nicotine, and those that contain both nicotine and cannabis, will be prohibited for sale
  • Cannabis-only vapour products continue to be available for sale through authorized cannabis retailers
  • Retailers cannot sell any E-substances that contain only flavoured chemicals (i.e. substances that do not contain nicotine, or nicotine salts or cannabis)
  • All advertising of vapour products that can be seen, accessed, or heard by youth is prohibited. This includes places such as store windows and transit hubs

After September 15, 2020:

  • All flavoured restricted E-substances – except tobacco flavour – can only be sold at age-restricted sales premises
  • Retailers selling restricted E-substances must ensure that the E-substances they sell meet the requirements with respect to labelling, packaging, volume, concentration and flavour

There are two types of vapour product retailers or stores and new requirements for the types of products that each retailer-type can sell:

  • Age-restricted sales premises  – where minors (those under 19 years of age) cannot are not permitted to enter and where customers must show proof of their age before buying products. Age-restricted stores include specialized vapour product stores. Tobacco flavoured E-substances and other flavoured restricted E-substances may be sold in an age-restricted sales premises. However, no retailer may sell the flavours listed in Schedule 3 of the federal Tobacco and Vapour Products Act.
  • All-ages sales premises - where minors (those under 19 years of age) can enter. These sales premises include gas stations, convenience stores, and any other retail establishment where youth are permitted. Only restricted E-substances that taste or smell of tobacco may be sold at all-ages sales premises. No other flavours are allowed. The purpose of this restriction is to limit the range of choice in vapour products in stores where youth have access.

Packaging

There will be a short transition period for existing vapour product retailers until September 15, 2020 with respect to their existing stock.  Under the new E-Substances Regulation retailers must only sell E-substances that are packaged in a plain manner that is compliant with the new packaging and labelling restrictions.

 

Retailers may only sell restricted E-substances in plain packages, without images and which includes the following information:

  • The nicotine concentration of the E-substance (which cannot be more than 20 mg/mL)
  • The total volume of the e-substance within a package, or within a container or cartridge if the package contains multiple containers or cartridges
  • A warning that states: “WARNING: nicotine is highly addictive”
  • this warning symbol:

Nicotine Warning Symbol

E-substance packaging may include one or more of following:

  • The name and contact information of the manufacturer
  • The brand name and product name
  • The type of product (e.g. prepackaged cartridge/pod, pre-filled vape pen, e-liquid in a bottle)

Notice of Intent and Reporting

The new E-Substances Regulation requires all businesses who currently sell e-substances or intend to sell E-substances in British Columbia to:

  • Notify the Ministry of Health of their intent to sell a restricted E-substances
  • Submit Product Reports (and Manufacturing Reports if applicable) to the Ministry of Health at least 6 weeks before the product can be sold

For detailed information on how to submit your Notice of Intent to sell vapour products and the requirements for submitting product and manufacturing reports, please go to:

Advertising

There are new public advertising restrictions in addition to the existing advertising restrictions under the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Regulation. 

Effective immediately, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers or persons acting on behalf of any of these entities, must not advertise vapour products in any place, inside or outside, by any means that permit minors (those under 19 years of age) to see, access or hear the advertisement.

However, if you have an age restricted sales premises, you may continue to advertise within your business so long as minors cannot see or hear any of the promotional materials from outside of your business.

All other requirements for tobacco display, sale and use remain as they are in the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act and Regulation, as well as the current Tobacco Tax Act and Tobacco Tax Regulation.

For more information on the specific requirements and supporting information for retailers, please see the following pages: