The B.C. Government introduced new requirements related to the sale, of vapour products under the newly enacted E-Substances Regulation under the Public Health Act.

Existing vapour product retailers will have a short transition period until September 15, 2020.

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.

The regulation introduces a new term, restricted e-substances. This is because there are new restrictions on the type of e-substances that can be sold in B.C. and new limitations as to where the restricted e-substances can be sold.

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
  • New business owners must notify the Ministry of Health of their intention to sell restricted E-substances at least 6 weeks prior to their first sale by using the NOI form
  • New business owners must report the products they wish to sell to the Ministry of Health at least 6 weeks prior to their first sale by submitting a product report, and a manufacturing report, if applicable 

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
  • All retailers must comply with notification and reporting requirements under the E-Substances Regulations

There are two types of sales premises in which vapour products may be sold 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 include 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:
    warning hazard sign

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)