When I first started in this industry nearly 8 years ago, I was as about a clueless as I could possibly be. I’d never smoked, never vaped and never been behind a counter selling either product. All I knew at the time was that I wished this product had existed when I was a kid so that I could have avoided the secondhand smoke I endured from both of my parents being smokers.
The company training me, this company, was extremely particular on three major commandments:
- Do not sell to anyone under the age of 19
- Do not sell to anyone who isn’t already a smoker or vaper
- Do not sell to anyone who is pregnant
At that time, there were no specific regulations governed to us, although there were suggestions from ECTA (Electronic Cigarette Trade Association) that we chose to follow and be leaders in the vaping industry. These rules made perfect sense to me because we treated it with the same care as any other chemical like nicotine.
Qualifying these three things was quite easy. We asked for ID. CHECK on point 1. Asked how much they currently smoke or what kind of cigarettes they smoke. CHECK on point 2 because it always came out if they weren’t a smoker. Asked if they were currently, or planning to become, pregnant. CHECK on point 3 because that’s just not a question that soon-to-be moms like to lie about when it concerns about their unborn child.
We took things further than that, and still do. If we suspected you were purchasing the product for someone who was underage, we took the same stance as the LCBO would and simply prohibited the sale. It wasn’t until several years later that these items all became regulated requirements and we were pleased to pat ourselves on the back for being ahead of the curve and not contributing to the underage vaping epidemic that exists today.
Regulations continued to evolve with the royal assent of Bill S-5 on May 23rd, 2018. Bill S-5 did two major things that affected the vaping industry.
- It put CCCR-2001 regulations into full effect with e-liquid. That created a packaging standard to ensure Canadians knew exactly what they were purchasing by:
- Requiring certain warnings be placed in specific locations with minimum font sizes
- Requiring the product be contained in a child resistant container
- It also set a standard (albeit somewhat open to interpretation) as to what a liquid can be named and how it can be advertised. Bottles cannot:
- Have mascots or characters depicting a face of any kind
- Have names that fit, relate or suggest one of the five (six) following categories:
- Energy Drink
- Soft Drink
- Also cannot be a name seen as ‘appealing to children’
Point 1 was easy for us because we were already making bottles that were CCCR-2001 compliant for more than 6 months at the time of Bill S-5’s inception.
Point 2 was a little tougher, because the definition was not (and still is not) clearly defined. Is “Cream” an ok flavour name? It’s something that can be IN a dessert, same with Vanilla. The general rule of thumb was “If you’re not sure, it’s probably not ok.” That didn’t really matter though, because our interests were already aligned with Health Canada. Our stance has been since the beginning that we do not sell to minors. Bill S-5 took that a step further by trying to minimize making it appealing at all to young people. Flavours like “Vanilla Victory” were renamed to “V Victory” and “Watermelon Bubblegum” to “Watermelon BG”.
With flavours being such a huge part in consumers transitioning from combustible tobacco to e-cigarettes; name changes like these were a very small price to pay to maintain the ability to continue to supply adult smokers/vapers with a less harmful alternative to tobacco.
In addition to all these steps already described, we also needed to make sure that online sales were able to ensure that customers are age verified. Canada Post is paid a service fee to ensure that the customer who ordered product is properly carded (every time!) for photo identification to ensure that our values, and the law, are being upheld. Should the recipient be unable to provide proof of age, the package is returned to us.
In the near future, you’ll see some small changes to our website to take another step in the right direction. Product images of bottles that had their names changed will reflect the new name change. For a short time, the previous name will be mentioned in the product description to prevent confusion to customers who had been using a specific flavour. Also, any promotional images that suggest or allude to any of the 5 categories described in Bill S-5 will be removed.
I felt it was important to address this topic for a couple of reasons:
- We have absolutely no desire to be a contributor of the youth vaping epidemic
- We want to ensure that customers who are used to seeing something specific about the flavour they are vaping understand it is the same flavour even if the name has been adjusted
There are hundreds of vaping companies within Canada that say they do not sell to minors. We didn’t want to be the company that said “We don’t do that”, but be the company that continues to be 100% transparent and say HOW we don’t do that.
We will continue to be vigilant and creative in our approach in finding ways to deter young people and non-smokers from starting a habit that serves no purpose for them.
True North Vapor