Specialty Vape Store Registration
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA, 2017) has certain exemptions that allow specialty vape stores to display, promote and test/sample vapour products. To access this exemption, Ontario Regulation 268/18 under the SFOA, 2017 specifies that a retail establishment must be registered as a specialty vape store with the local board of health.
By submitting this application, the applicant agrees that at any time during the application process or following registration as a specialty vape store, the board of health may request the applicant to submit any records on which this application was based, and on which continuing registration is based. Any misrepresentation made in an application may result in a decision to decline the application or revoke a registration.
If there is a change to any of the information provided on the Application for Registration, it must be reported to the local board of health immediately.
Note: A change in address will require a new application to be submitted.
Review the Guidelines for Registration for help completing the application.
Statement of Accountant
In order to demonstrate to the board of health that your store satisfies the sales/inventory requirements, the Statement of Professional Accountant section of the application form must be completed by a certified professional accountant. The accountant must certify as true and verifiable your proportion of total sales or inventory that are derived from specialty vapour products.
The Statement of Accountant section must be completed and signed by a person who is a licensed professional accountant. This means that the person holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, or one of three legacy accounting designations:
- Certified General Accountant (CGA)
- Chartered Accountant (CA)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
In order to locate a licensed professional accountant who holds one of the above accounting designations, you may contact:
Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario
69 Bloor St. E., Toronto, ON M4W 1B3
Criteria for Registering as a Specialty Vape Stores
Sales and Inventory
To be eligible for registration as a Specialty Vape Store, businesses must meet the following criteria:
- Businesses that have been operating for more than a year:
- At least 85 per cent of the establishment’s total sales from the previous 12 months is from vapour products.
- Businesses that have been operating for less than a year:
- At least 85 per cent of the establishment’s total inventory purchases for the time it has been in existence consists of vapour products; or
- At least 85 per cent of the total sales for the time it has been in existence consists of vapour products.
- The remaining sales or inventory are from other items reasonably associated with a vapour product or branded with the name of the specialty vape store or a brand of vapour product.
- Minors (younger than age 19) shall not be permitted to enter the establishment. Exceptions to this include the store owner, employees, or a support person accompanying a person with a disability who is at least 19 years old.
- The establishment must be a building or located inside a building.
- Customers can only enter the establishment from the outdoors or from the areas of an enclosed shopping mall that are:
- open to the public
- common to most of the retail establishments or other businesses within the mall
- not part of the retail establishment or other business within the mall
- The establishment must not be a thoroughfare.
In other words, customers can enter the establishment only from the outdoors or from an indoor common area such as a mall concourse. This means that customers cannot enter the Specialty Vape Store from another store.
- E-cigarette Batteries/power sources
- Heat-Not-Burn devices
- Tobacco component of Heat-Not-Burn devices (e.g. heat stick or capsule)
Other Acceptable Products (remaining sales/inventory up to 15%)
- Branded clothing or accessories
- Branded water bottles or food items
- Branded coffee cups
- Carrying cases for vapour products and accessories
*Refer to Tobacco and Vaping Products Act for additional restrictions on branded items
Display & Promotion
Under the regulation, registered specialty vape stores can display and promote vapour products, but only within the store. Specialty Vape Stores may allow customers to view and handle vapour products before the point of purchases. Displays and promotions in front of the store are not permitted.
This rule applies to heat-not-burn e-cigarette devices intended for use with tobacco, but packaged without the tobacco component. However, the tobacco component of a heat-not-burn e-cigarette device (e.g., heat stick) cannot be displayed or promoted, unless the retailer is registered as a tobacconist. For more information, please see the Tobacconist Fact Sheet.
Rules for in-Store Testing & Handling
Under the regulation, activating an electronic cigarette (i.e., turning it “on”) in a registered specialty vape store is permitted, if the following conditions are met:
- Activation is for the purpose of testing the electronic cigarette or demonstrating to customers how the device can be activated.
- No vapour is inhaled or exhaled from the activated electronic cigarette.
In order to display and promote vapour products, and allow customers to test or sample vapour products, the specialty vape store must also comply with the following conditions:
- No person under 19 years of age is permitted into the store, except for the owner of the store, an employee, or a support person accompanying an adult with a disability. A person who appears to be less than 25 years old is considered to be less than 19 years old unless they can provide proper identification.
- The place of business of the specialty vape store must be a building or must be located within a building.
- Customers must be able to enter the place of business of the specialty vape store only from the outdoors or from the areas of an enclosed shopping mall that are:
- open to the public
- common to most of the stores or other businesses within the mall
- not part of a store or other business within the mall
- In the case of testing or demonstrating an e-cigarette device, the customer is only permitted to hold the activated e-cigarette without inhaling or exhaling vapour from the device.
- The place of business of the specialty vape store must not be a thoroughfare (e.g., passageway)
- In the case of sampling a vapour product, the following criteria must be met:
- Only two customers may sample the vapour product in the store at the same time
- The vapour product cannot contain tobacco, cannabis or a controlled substance.
- The e-cigarette must be the personal possession of the customer, or if the e-cigarette is supplied by the store it must come with a disposable mouthpiece for one-time use.
- In the case of displaying and promoting vapour products, the following criteria must be met:
- Display and promotion is only permitted within the retail establishment (i.e. not in front of the retail establishment)
Display and Promotion of Tobacco Products
Retailers that sell tobacco for use in electronic cigarettes (e.g. heat sticks or capsules used in Heat-Not-Burn devices) must comply with the prohibition on displaying and promoting tobacco products, unless they register as a tobacconist (see Guidelines for Registration as a Tobacconist).
An electronic cigarette or component of an electronic cigarette that is manufactured or sold for use with tobacco products (e.g. Heat-Not-Burn devices), but packaged without a tobacco component, are considered to be vapour products, not tobacco product accessories for the purposes of display and promotion rules. As a result, they are subject to rules for the display and promotion of vapour products (see above), and not the display and promotion rules for tobacco product accessories.
Age Based Sales Restrictions
Before selling tobacco or vapour products to anyone who appears to be less than 25 years old, a retailer must request identification and be satisfied that the person is at least 19 years old.
Acceptable identification must include a photograph of the person, the person’s date of birth, and reasonably appear to have been issued by a government or the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Some examples are:
- Ontario driver’s license
- Canadian passport
- Canadian citizenship
- Canadian Armed Forces identification card
- Ontario photo card
- Liquor Control Board of Ontario photo card
All retailers must post ‘No Smoking’ and ‘No Vaping’ signs, or a dual ‘No Smoking and No Vaping’ sign at all entrances, exits, and washrooms, in appropriate locations and sufficient numbers, to ensure that everyone knows that smoking and vaping is prohibited inside the establishment.
Vapour Product Retailers
All stores selling vapour products must post, in clear view of the seller and customer at the point of sale:
Tobacco Product Retailers
All stores selling tobacco products at retail must post, in clear view of the seller and customer at the point of sale:
Note: Tobacco retailers include those who sell tobacco products for use with electronic cigarettes (e.g., Heat-Not-Burn). In order to sell tobacco products, you are required to have an Ontario Tobacco Retail Dealer’s Permit.
Please contact the Ministry of Finance for more information: 1-866-ONT-TAXS (1-866-668-8297).
There are several penalties that a retailer could face for violating the SFOA, 2017. Retailers are advised to review the Act to understand their responsibilities and the fines that may result from failing to comply.