On July 20th 2020 the BC ministry of health released a guide on the sweeping set of new regulations for eliquid manufacturers and retailers in the province. The BC e-substances regulations guide outlines key changes to industry norms and sets some short time frames for compliance and reporting. Coming into full effect September 15th 2020, here is a quick summary of the regulations surrounding sales and packaging.
- Nicotine content capped at 20mg and sale of 0mg Nicotine content is prohibited for sale
- Volumetric restriction - limits container size to 30ml
- The sale of flavoured e-substances restricted to specialty vape shops
- Plain packaging requirements that prevent the use of images
- Advertising restrictions effective immediately
- Prohibit the sale of flavoured e-substances listed in schedule 3 of the TVPA (1)
The retailers guide also contains more sections on notification requirements, as well as mandating reporting for products, sales and manufacturing.
If you have not yet read the full guide, it can be found here:
The vape industry in BC is changing rapidly while still in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. The industry as a whole responded and adapted quickly by implementing rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols including social distancing and thorough sanitization procedures. Already forced to adjust on the fly to massive and unprecedented economic challenges and disruption, retailers and manufacturers in the BC vape industry are facing a new set of requirements in response to the BC e-substances retailer guide. These changes represent a massive shift in marketplace norms, add significant reporting requirements (both initial and annual) to retailers and manufacturers, and have caused a slew of confusion and frustration among vapers and industry stakeholders. All of this is rolling out at a time when other more prevalent issues (like a global pandemic) are at front of mind for vapers and vape business owners. Until a full and formal bill makes its way through the BC legislature, retailers and manufacturers are going to have to interpret these guidelines as best as possible and attempt to adhere to new regulations absent the “letter of the law”... so to speak.
We submitted our response to the BC government’s intentions during the submission period at the beginning of 2020. DIY Flavours, as well as many other individuals and businesses in the industry, presented opposition to several key points in the intentions paper. Higher nicotine limits in e-liquid to help heavy smokers transition easier to vaping, keeping bottle size at 60ml to align with existing standards and to not restrict products sold by BC retailers to BC vapers. Unfortunately only a slight change in bottle size limits (originally 10ml - up to 30ml now) was the only concession made in response to the concerns of industry stakeholders.
Flavours and our focus
Amidst the bevy of guidelines and reporting requirements is a provision under section 3 (Sales) that contains the following text:
“Retailers cannot sell the flavoured vapour products that belong to the categories of flavours and substances outlined in Schedule 3 of the federal Tobacco and Vapour Products Act “
The highlighted section above makes reference to a list of flavour categories outlined by the federal government in the TVPA (3). Although the TVPA contains a list of flavour categories - the only reference to schedule 3 in the TVPA is with respect to packaging and brand elements. Specifically the depiction of brand elements on packaging that could be derived from that list. In the TPVA there is no ban on the sale of flavours of those categories. The BC e-substances regulation appears to go one step further by explicitly prohibiting the sale of flavours that are on schedule 3. As our flavourings are not considered an E-substance by the definition outlined in the guide (2) we will continue to provide these high quality products to individuals and manufacturers.
Amidst this ever changing business landscape and dramatic shifts in day-to-day life as we know it, our focus will remain the same. At the forefront for us is the safety of our customers and our staff by following appropriate pandemic protocols. We are always striving for excellence in customer service and longstanding support for the vapor industry. Our goal is, and always has been, to provide the largest variety of concentrated flavourings made by renowned manufacturers from across the globe.
How we support one another during this time is going to play a key role in how we respond to this new set of challenges. At this crucial juncture it is imperative that we are as supportive of one another as possible. Check in with your local shops or favourite juice makers to let them know they have your support. Reach out to them if you have any comments, questions or concerns. The Canadian vape industry was built by dedicated and fearless entrepreneurs. Shops and manufacturers across the province are staffed by wonderful and helpful individuals all with the same goal of helping smokers transition away from combustible tobacco.
We are all in this together. As clichée as that saying may have become in recent months, it appears to be more applicable now than ever before.
- Schedule 3 of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act
- Definition of a vaping product as outlined in the BC e-substance retailers guide
“the type of product (e.g. prepackaged cartridge/pod, pre-filled vape pen, e-liquid in a bottle)”
- Tobacco and Vaping Products Act - Full text