The world of online commerce is constantly evolving, and merchants must be mindful of changing regulations to avoid non-compliance. In the world of vaping products, compliance is especially important to protect the health and safety of consumers, particularly youth. Health Canada has strict regulations in place to prevent young people from accessing vaping products, and it is the responsibility of merchants to comply with these regulations.
One of the key regulations outlined by Health Canada is the Vaping Products Promotion Regulations (VPPR) under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA). Section 2 of the VPPR prohibits the advertising of vaping products or vaping product-related brand elements in a way that allows the advertising to be seen or heard by young persons. While there are exceptions to this rule, it is crucial for merchants to ensure that their advertising is not accessible to young people.
To comply with these regulations, merchants must use an age gating mechanism (AGM) to prevent young people from accessing vaping product advertising. This mechanism must ensure a diligent verification of the age of the person accessing the website, and advertising must not be seen or heard by young persons before the completion of the AGM process/step.
This means that simply requiring visitors to “check the box” to attest to their age or self-declare their date of birth or age on a website or social media page is not sufficient to prevent youth access to vaping product promotion. Regulated parties must implement the most appropriate and effective measures that prevent youth access to their websites or social media pages, which may require the collection of personal information to verify age. Merchants must also take all necessary steps to comply with other statutory and regulatory requirements that may apply, such as those relating to the protection of personal information.
The consequences of non-compliance with Health Canada regulations can be severe. Merchants may face compliance and enforcement actions, which can harm their reputation and business. Moreover, non-compliance with Health Canada regulations can put the health and safety of young people at risk.
To avoid these consequences, merchants must implement effective age gating mechanisms to verify the age of their customers and prevent youth access to vaping product promotion. Age verification processes should be robust and able to detect fraudulent or false information. This could involve using third-party verification services or requiring government-issued identification at the point of entry of a website.
Implementing an effective age verification process is not only a legal requirement but also a best practice for responsible merchants. It demonstrates a commitment to protecting young people from the potential harms of vaping products, and it can help build trust with customers who are concerned about the safety and legality of vaping products.
In conclusion, compliance with Health Canada regulations is crucial for merchants who sell vaping products online. Merchants must be aware of the regulations outlined in the Vaping Products Promotion Regulations (VPPR) under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA) and implement effective age gating mechanisms to prevent youth access to vaping product promotion. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in compliance and enforcement actions, harm to the merchant’s reputation, and potential harm to the health and safety of young people. By implementing effective age verification processes, merchants can demonstrate their commitment to responsible business practices and protect their customers from harm.