Information for Vapour Product Retailers

Definition of a vapour product

A vapour product (commonly known as an e-cigarette) is defined as:

  • a device that contains an electronic or battery- powered heating element that can vaporize an e-substance.

An e-substance is:

  • a solid, liquid or gas that, when heated by the element in an e-cigarette, produces a vapour for use. All e-substances are covered by the new legislation (both those with nicotine and those that are nicotine-free).

Both the device and the e-substance are subject to restrictions on sale, display, promotion and use.

Requirements for the sale, display and promotion of vapour products in retail

Only adults can buy vapour products

Any adult over the age of 19 can purchase a vapour product.

Retailers must ensure that they sell vapour products only to people over 19 years of age. Only government-issued identification (e.g. a passport, driver’s licence or identification card with a photograph) can be used to confirm a person’s age.

It is illegal to give or provide any vapour product to someone under the age of 19. If you suspect someone is providing vapour products to minors, please contact enforcement staff at your local health authority.

Restrictions on the display and promotion of vapour products in stores

A key goal in the new legislation is ensuring youth are not encouraged to use vapour products. As a result, vapour products cannot be advertised or displayed in stores where those under 19 years of age have access.

  • If your store allows all ages to enter the store, then you must ensure that the vapour products and any advertisements for vapour products are not visible to minors in your store. This includes any objects like mugs or hats that promote brands or manufacturers of vapour products. Within your store, you can inform customers that you have vapour products for sale, using basic signs with general information such the price range of single use or refillable products. The information must be small black letters that on a white background and the page cannot be larger than a standard letter size page.
  • If your store only allows adults to enter the store or has a section of the store that is adult-only, then you may have vapour products and their promotions out on display. However, you must ensure that people looking into the store or age-restricted section from outside cannot see the vapour products or their advertisements.

For information specific to advertising tobacco products:

Any vending machines that sell vapour products must be in adult-only venues.

Vapour products advertisements outside of retail stores

Our advertising regulations apply to retail premises. If a retailer wishes to advertise outside of those premises (e.g. on a sandwich board, newspaper or billboard), then the retailer should review the requirements set by local and federal governments.

Display requirements for vapour products in duty free stores

Duty free stores are treated the same as all other retail stores in British Columbia. Duty-free stores that sell vapour products can either stop youth from entering their premises or place these products in age-restricted areas.

In the case of displays of these products in duty free stores, federal legislation does not take precedence over provincial legislation. These laws will continue to be enforced in duty free stores by enforcement officers from health authorities.

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.

Stores that cannot sell vapour products

There are a number of public places in B.C. that cannot sell vapour products. Stores in the following locations cannot sell vapour products:

  • Any publicly owned or leased hospital or healthcare facility.
  • Any publicly owned or leased post-secondary buildings that are used for education, research or student services.
  • Any municipal or regional district buildings used for athletics, recreation or library services.
  • Any building owned or leased by government or crown corporations or agencies.

Signs required for the sale of vapour products

Under the new legislation, anyone selling vapour products must post two mandated warning signs at your cash till or point of sale:

1. One sign faces the customers and informs them they must be at least 19 years of age to buy vapour products.

Vapour Signage for Customers

2. A second sign faces the retailer/employee of retailer and reminds them that only those 19 or older with approved identification can buy vapour products.

Vapour Signage for Employees

Signs required for the sale of both tobacco and vapour products

1. One sign faces the customers and informs them they must be at least 19 years of age to buy tobacco and vapour products. Tobacco and Vapour Signage for Customers
2. A second sign faces the retailer/employee of retailer and reminds them that only those 19 or older with approved identification can buy tobacco and vapour products. Tobacco and Vapour Signage for Employees

Only the signs provided by the Ministry of Health can be used. Please contact your local health authority to receive your copies of your signs.


Enforcement officers in the regional health authorities are responsible for enforcing the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act and the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Regulation.

Their work is guided by a progressive enforcement model that includes: education and awareness, verbal warning, letter warning, ticketing and administrative hearings. Their goal is to ensure everyone is meeting the requirements of the legislation through education and progressive enforcement options. Many times, an enforcement officer will work with retailers to educate them on the requirements and help parties comply with the new laws. Enforcement officers may also use minor test shoppers as part of their inspection routines.


If an enforcement officer believes a retailer or their employee has contravened the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act or Regulation, the officer has two main options:

  • A ticket can be issued: tickets vary from $345 or $575 depending on the contravention. Fine amounts for contraventions of the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act and Regulation are provided under the Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation (Schedule 2), B.C. Reg. 89/97.
  • A request can be made for an administrative hearing: an administrative hearing is usually for more serious violations and allows both the retailer and enforcement officer an opportunity to provide evidence in a hearing. If a contravention is found, adjudicators can set monetary penalties and/or suspend tobacco sales authorizations and prohibit the sale of vapour products. Monetary penalties range up to $5,000, and suspensions of tobacco sales authorizations and prohibition of sale of vapour products range up to 180 days.