As an owner/operator of a retail establishment that sells tobacco and tobacco-related products, one of your responsibilities is to stay current with changes to the legislation surrounding this subject in your own province.
The following information provides you with some facts you will need to consider as you begin to create your own company policies and procedures. These policies and procedures will protect the youth in your community from access to controlled substances and at the same time will also guide you and your employees through the correct ways to sell tobacco and its related products.
There are many products on the market these days and, as a retailer, you must understand exactly what materials are considered tobacco and tobacco-related products. Further, you need to know which actions you or an employee might take that could have you, as owner/operator, held responsible for the sale of tobacco and related products to those under the age of 19.
Not all identification is acceptable for use in the purchase of tobacco and associated products. Knowing which are and keeping your employees informed is a sure way to be on the right side of the law.
In addition, you need to understand the severity of the penalties handed down for infractions.
Also included is a list of questions most frequently asked by retailers and the answers as they pertain to each of the four Atlantic Provinces.
With a full understanding of this information, you will value how rigorous you must be in your management of the sale of tobacco and tobacco related products.
No one shall give, sell, or provide, in any way, tobacco to anyone under 19 years of age.
First, here is a definition of tobacco products:
Tobacco Products are composed in whole or in part of tobacco. Some tobacco products are cigarettes, snuff, loose tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, bidis, kreteks, chewing tobacco, and pipe tobacco.
Second is the definition of tobacco accessories or tobacco-related products:
These products include tobacco itself, tubes, cigarette papers and filters, pipes, cigarette makers, cigarette holders and cases, and cigar clips.
Again, in all cases it is illegal to furnish tobacco to a person under the age of 19. However, provinces have added certain other restrictions that you must know.
The following section lists how youth are protected from the sale of tobacco accessories and tobacco-related products.
Thinking someone looks older than they actually are is not a legitimate excuse to sell them tobacco or tobacco products.
The form and content of these signs is specified by Provincial legislation.
Signs must be placed where customers can see them and they must not be hidden from view. If further information about signs is required, please contact your local tobacco enforcement official.
Yes! It is against the law to sell single cigarettes. Cigarettes may only be sold in packages of 20 cigarettes, 25 cigarettes or cartons.
Under no circumstances can customers help themselves to tobacco products before they pay for them.
Countertop tobacco displays are absolutely banned in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. However, in PEI, although countertop displays may not be self serve, they are permitted in tobacconist shops.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, countertop displays are allowed, but customers must not be able to access tobacco products before paying for them.
Vending machines that sell tobacco products are completely banned in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
In New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, vending machines selling tobacco products are only allowed in places where the public cannot have access to them or in bars, taverns, beverage rooms or similar places. They must have a prescribed security mechanism.
Selling tobacco or related products is illegal in a pharmacy, or in a store where a pharmacy is located in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. For a complete list of prohibited locations, please contact your provincial office.
It is imperative that you and your employees ask to see valid identification if the person who is requesting to purchase tobacco or products associated with tobacco looks under 25 years of age.
Remember, thinking someone looks older than they are is not a legitimate excuse to sell them tobacco or tobacco products. Always check for a valid identification.
Federal and Provincial tobacco legislation in Atlantic Canada states that only the following pieces of identification or documentation are acceptable to prove a person's age:
Note: Two pieces of government-issued identification, one that contains the person's date of birth and signature, are acceptable in New Brunswick only.
Any retailer who sells or gives tobacco products to anyone under 19 years of age is guilty of an offence and is liable to the following penalties:
|Number of offences||Fine amount||Other penalty|
|1st offence||$500 AND||Prohibited from selling tobacco for 3 months|
|2nd offence||$2,500 AND||Prohibited from selling tobacco for 6 months|
|3rd offence||$5,000 AND||Prohibited from selling tobacco for 9 months|
|Number of offences||Fine amount||Other penalty|
|Class B Offences - violations within Section 3 (Signage) of the Tobacco Sales Act under the Provincial Offences Procedure Act|
|1st offence||Not less then $140 and not more then $320|
|2nd offence||Up to $570|
|Class E Offences|
|1st offence||Not less than $240 and not more than $2,620||Tobacco license may be suspended for one calendar month|
|2nd and 3rd offence||Up to $5,120 and/or up to 30 days of imprisonment||Tobacco license may be suspended for double the number of months of any previous suspension|
|Number of offences||Fine amount||Other penalty|
|1st offence||Up to $2,000||Retail vendor's license may be suspended or cancelled according to Section 8 of the PEI Tobacco Tax Act|
|2nd offence||Up to $5,000||Retail vendor's license may be suspended or cancelled according to Section 8 of the PEI Tobacco Tax Act|
|3rd or subsequent offence||Up to $10,000||Retail vendor's license may be suspended or cancelled according to Section 8 of the PEI Tobacco Tax Act|
|Number of offences||Fine amount||Other penalty (mandatory on conviction)|
|1st offence||Up to $2,000 AND||No selling of tobacco products for 7 consecutive days|
|2nd offence||Up to $5,000 AND||No selling of tobacco products for 3 to 6 consecutive months|
|3rd offence||Up to $10,000 AND||No selling of tobacco products for 12 to 14 consecutive months|
Operation ID is an initiative of the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers. Operation ID signage does not replace the requirements under Federal and Provincial tobacco legislation and is not permitted in retail outlets in Nova Scotia where only government authorized signs are acceptable.
The fines and penalties for breaking the tobacco control laws vary by province.
You must follow both laws. Federal legislation sets a standard for tobacco control across the country and provinces can make additional legislation applicable in that province only. Generally, by following the stricter standard, you should be in compliance with both laws.
Yes. You must ask for proof of age if the customer appears to be less than about 25 years old. Only government-issued photo identification is acceptable. Student cards are not acceptable forms of identification. In New Brunswick, two pieces of government-issued identification, one with a signature, are acceptable.
No! It is against the law to sell to people under the age of 19 no matter what the reason. A note, telephone call, verbal consent from a parent, guardian or friend is not acceptable. You can be charged and convicted even if the parent agrees to the sale. No one can give you permission to break the law.
The older person is breaking the law and is subject to a fine. You should tell the adult this and refuse to make the sale. If they persist, you should advise the local authorities.
You should abide by the laws in your province and be aware that there are heavy fines and penalties like losing your tobacco vendor's licence for not doing so.
Along with your license to sell tobacco comes the responsibility to keep tobacco products out of the hands of people under 19 years of age. Tobacco is an addictive drug, with dangerous effects to health. Most people start smoking by age 16. Research shows that when strict laws about selling tobacco are actively enforced, fewer young people start to smoke.
You may wish to point out these facts to your customers. Consider using the Customer Information Cards included in this Kit to help explain this to customers.
Yes. In Atlantic Canada there is no provision under tobacco legislation that has to do with the age of people selling or handling tobacco products. Retailers can hire people under the age of 19 years to sell tobacco products, with the exception of a tobacconist shop in New Brunswick. Clerks just can't sell tobacco products to people under 19.
The rules about signage vary depending on your Province. Contact your local enforcement officials for more information about mandatory government signage on the subject of tobacco sales, health warnings and proof of age.
In Nova Scotia, signs, promotions of any kind, and/or displays advertising the purchase or price of tobacco and tobacco products are no longer permitted inside or outside the retail outlet.
All tobacco retailers are required by law to display these signs. You can be fined if you do not. In some Provinces, repeat offences may result in suspension or cancellation of your license.
Contact your local enforcement officials if there are problems with your signs. It is your responsibility to maintain the signs, ensuring they are visible and readable in your store at all times. Since a defaced sign means you are not complying with the law, you must take all reasonable steps and measures to ensure that the signs are intact and visible.
No. An Enforcement Officer can enter your store without a warrant and inspect your premises. They may also check to make sure you are complying with the legislation. You and your employees must fully cooperate with the Enforcement Officer.
It is a tobacco retailer's obligation to take every step within his or her power to prevent the sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 19. And when you are out of the shop or otherwise busy, you must be able to trust your employees to carry out each tobacco sale within the letter of the law. Much is at risk if they do not.
It is important to devise clear rules for your employees to follow. It is safe to say that most people find it more comfortable to know what is expected of them, how to carry out the tasks set before them, and how to handle the unexpected.
Well thought out policies and procedures on tobacco product sales assist you as the owner/operator to align your shop with the laws of the province in which you live. They help your staff members have a clear understanding of those laws and what is and what is not permitted so that they can make the right decision each time.
By following the next three sections and using the tools provided within each section, you will avoid selling tobacco to minors.
Establish store policies and procedures about tobacco sales, including what will happen if people do not follow them. To be effective, these policies and procedures must be an integral part of your day to day retail operations.
Provide all employees with complete training about Federal and Provincial tobacco legislation as well as your store policies and procedures about tobacco sales. Train employees as soon as you hire them whether or not they have worked in another tobacco retail outlet, and, most importantly, train them before they sell tobacco products.
Regularly monitor employees to make sure they are following both the Provincial laws and your store policies about tobacco sales.
Each of the four Atlantic Provinces has one or more people working to enforce tobacco regulations.
Please call them if:
Department of Health Promotion and Protection
1601 Lower Water Street
PO Box 487
Web site: http://www.gov.ns.ca/ohp/tobaccocontrol.html
Department of Public Safety
PO Box 6000
PEI Department of Health
PO Box 2000
Toll Free Tobacco Line: 1-800-958-6400
Web site: http://www.gov.pe.ca/environmentalhealth
Department of Government Services
Environmental Health Program
P.O. Box 8700
Confederation Building, West Block
St. John's, NL
* The Federal Tobacco Act, the Nova Scotia Tobacco Access Act and Regulations, the Newfoundland and Labrador Tobacco Control Act, the Prince Edward Island Tobacco Sales and Access Act, the New Brunswick Tobacco Sales Act