Health Canada has been performing inspections in stores selling vapour products, to ensure compliance with the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, that was enacted in May of 2018.
You may find the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, here.
The results from the July to September quarter have been posted recently, and the results, well, are atrocious. 77% of specialty vape shops inspected between July and September of 2019 failed inspection, resulting in seizure of non-compliant products, along with a report of SALES TO UNDERAGE by a specialty vape shop located in Saskatoon. I'm fearful of what the results of October to December 2019 are going to look like, as there is most definitely at least one shop we all know about, whose clientele is mainly underage and/or sells non-compliant product. We shall see.
Third quarter 2019 compliancy results can be found here.
On a positive note, this was eye-opening, and provided clarification on a lot of...we'll call it "legal speak" within the act. The Canadian Vaping Association published an analysis to its members, performed by a regulatory lawyer. This provided industry members even further clarification on specific criteria listed within the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.
How does this affect the website?
With recent clarification, and the most recent regulation proposals from Health Canada regarding advertising, we have been scouring our website for compliance issues. Happily, all our product images are compliant. However 30.48 (1) within the Tobacco and vaping products act states:
30.48(1) No person shall promote a vaping product set out in column 2 of Schedule 3, including by means of the packaging, through an indication or illustration, including a brand element, that could cause a person to believe that the product has a flavour set out in column 1.
The above covers both direct, and indirect.
We have been going through our product descriptions and updating them to fall in line with what is mentioned in 30.48 (1). What this means is that product descriptions (defined as "indication") that could cause a person to believe that the product has a flavour set out in column 1 of schedule 3 are prohibited. Therefore, you will see product listings with what may look like nonsense, or with nothing at all.
"Indication" also refers to verbal. We can not verbally tell you what the flavour is if it falls under Schedule 3, via phone or in person. This also affects menu cards found in-store, which are for employee reference only. We can not describe a schedule 3 flavour to you via email either, if you contact us.
In addition to the above, testimonials and endorsements were clarified. The Tobacco and Vaping Products Act states:
30.21(1) No person shall promote a vaping product through a testimonial or an endorsement, however displayed or communicated, including by means of the packaging.
Product reviews have been removed. Facebook reviews were removed a few years ago due to the childish abuse from a local competitor and their underage clientele. Google Reviews are out of our control though, so I'm unsure of how Health Canada could address that. We are also unable to give our opinion, whether good or bad, about a vaping product...be it hardware or eliquid. You can ask us in person, over the phone, or via email what we think of a product, and we are not legally allowed to provide our opinion.
With upcoming regulations about social media advertising, we decided it would be best to just delete our Instagram account. We do not use Twitter for any form of advertising, but for communication with industry members, government and health officials, and news. We are unsure what to do about Facebook at this time (as Facebook does have age restrictions available) because we are limited with what we can promote and how we can promote it.
In the near future, we will be implementing a two-stage age verification system on our website. Presently, we rely on Canada Post for age verification upon delivery, which has been successful as we have had numerous parcels returned to us due to underage recipients. The two-stage age verification will consist of the already existing age gate upon visiting the site, and the implementation of robust age verifying software at point of checkout.
All of this may be an inconvenience, we understand that. However, this is Canadian law, and we will do whatever we can to work with the Canadian Government to help reduce youth uptake, while keeping vapour products accessible to adult smokers.
We hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!