Information for Users of Vapour Products
Generally speaking, vapour products cannot be used inside indoor public or workplaces – places such as offices, malls, cafés, stores and other places in which the public can enter and/or people work, along with the break rooms and bathrooms within these sites. The common areas of hotels, apartments and condominiums, such as the hallways, laundry room or party room are also considered public or workplaces. Business managers, owners or lessees have legal responsibilities to prevent people from using vapour products in most fully or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces. Many property and business owners have established their own enhanced policies that exceed provincial laws, and create 100% tobacco and vapour free places.
There are two locations in which limited indoor vapour product use may be allowed:
- When a small number of customers are testing products in adult-only (19 years and older) stores
- By patients or residents in specially designed use rooms in hospitals or care homes
Please see below for more information.
Testing vapour products before purchasing
Adult-only stores can show customers how to use vapour products and test products that they wish to buy, with the following conditions:
- Retailers/employees can hold and activate vapour products only for the purpose of showing customers how to use the product.
- Retailers/employees cannot use the vapour product.
- A customer can sample an e-substance in the store if:
- They are testing or sampling products that they intend to purchase and consume off-site; and
- Only two customers can sample vapour products at any time in a retail store.
- Retailers must take steps to ensure the second-hand vapour does not escape to adjacent premises or public areas.
Vapour products use by patients/residents of a health authority
Residents of a hospital or residential care facility can use tobacco or vapour products inside the hospital or residential care facility only if there is a designated, specially constructed room that meets the standards set by WorkSafeBC’s Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines, Part 4. Only residents can use the room – visitors and staff cannot.
Health authorities are not required to provide such rooms. If residents are concerned about how they will cope without tobacco or vapour products while they are on site, they should speak to facility staff. Nicotine medication can regulate nicotine levels and make the adjustment easier.
Using tobacco or vapour products outdoors
The Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Regulation sets a six metre zone around all doorways, air intakes and open windows to any public and work places in B.C. (previously, the buffer zone was three metres). This means there must be a six metre area around any doorway, air intake or open window to any public or work place in which no one can stand and use tobacco or vapour products. This protects against emissions entering these places and protects people as they enter or exit.
Places that may be considered public or workplaces include stores, offices, and entrances to condominiums/apartment buildings, work vehicles (e.g., delivery vans), public transit, taxis, cafes, casinos and pubs/bars.
There is an exception to the buffer zone restriction:
- Tobacco and vapour products can be used on an outdoor hospitality patio (e.g., patio of a bar, casino, café) that is within a buffer zone if there are no open windows, doors or active air intakes between the patio and the hospitality venue. For example, patrons can use vapour products on a casino’s patio as long as the doors are closed except for exiting/entering, the windows to the casino are closed and the air intake is not operating.
NOTE: You may live in a community/municipality that has greater restrictions on outdoor smoke/vapour product use. Some communities in B.C. ban use of tobacco and vapour products on hospitality patios have buffer zones that are larger than six metres or ban use of these products on outdoor spaces such as beaches or playgrounds. If your community has such a bylaw, it takes precedence over the provincial requirement. Whichever requirement is more restrictive is the requirement you must follow. As an example, the provincial legislation allows vapour product use on a hospitality patio. However, your community/municipality bans it through a bylaw. Therefore, the community/municipality bylaw is the one that must be followed.
Responsibilities of managers or owners to enforce the buffer zone
Owners and managers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent people from smoking/vaping within the six metre buffer zone on their property. They are not required to enforce the law on public property such as sidewalks, unless the person is within the control of the owner (such as a customer or patron) or is their employee. For example, if you place a bench at the doorway to your store, you must make sure people do not use tobacco or vapour products while sitting there.
Vaping on health authority property
The legislation gives Health Authorities the discretion to implement designated outdoor smoking areas that allow tobacco or vapour product use. It is up to health authorities to decide if they will designate an area for the use of one, both or neither of these products.
- Vapour products cannot be used in health authority sites except in the following circumstances:
- Residents and patients of a hospital or residential care facility can use vapour products inside buildings only if there is a designated, specially constructed room that meets the standards set by WorkSafeBC’s Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines, Part 4. Only residents and patients can use vapour products in this room – visitors and staff cannot. Health authorities are not required to provide such rooms.
- Health authorities may designate an area as:
- tobacco use only;
- vapour products use only; or
- both tobacco and vapour products.
- Health authorities are not required to have designated areas for either product.
If patients and residents are concerned about how they will cope without tobacco or vapour products while they are on site, they should speak to facility staff. Nicotine medication can regulate nicotine levels and make the adjustment easier.
Vapour product use banned on public and private school grounds
All public and private kindergarten to Grade 12 schools in B.C. are tobacco and vape-free under the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act and Regulation. This ban extends to all school property 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of whether or not school is in session. The ban also includes vehicles, parking lots, sports fields, driveways, courtyards, private vehicles parked on school property.
Exemptions for indoor use of prescribed medical products
Section 2.41 of the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act describes an exemption from the ban on indoor use for prescribed medical products; this use of ‘prescribed’ does not mean a doctor’s prescription. In this context, ‘prescribed’ is a regulatory term and allows our regulation to create a schedule of medical products or devices approved by Health Canada. Currently, there are no products or devices that have been exempted.