The next time you walk through the grocery store, take a closer look at the product labels on the shelf. Regardless of the country of origin, from canned goods to shampoo to cosmetics, there are commonalities on all the labels in their respective departments. Likewise, E-Liquid is bound to certain labeling standards as well. While there is no specific “E-Liquid” regulation as of this writing regarding the label standards, it will come into play as regulations start to become cemented on a provincial and federal level. So how are these standards derived, and what is necessary to have on an e-liquid label?
Starting with the most basic of requirements, Canada is a bi-lingual nation. Consumer product labels being in both English AND French isn’t just a cool marketing idea. It’s the law.
Every consumable product must list the ingredients in descending orderB.01.008 (3) of concentration, down to 1%. If you produce a PG base liquid, Propylene Glycol is listed before Glycerin. VG base liquids would have Glycerin listed before Propylene Glycol. Also, some ingredients, such as Ethyl Alcohol have regulatory requirements to be listed even when the concentration is less than 1%. Additional details can be found in the Food and Drug Regulations.
ECTA did not make decisions on what should be on a label, but rather sought out what standards were already in place by the government. While e-liquid mostly contains food-based ingredients, the label standards fall into the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations 2001. While it is a long and complex document, there are certain elements of which you should be aware.
There is no simple list of “Must Have’s” on a label because it really depends on the size and shape of the bottle. The CCCR recognizes that manufacturers use many different types of bottles and therefore adjusts the requirements based on the bottle.
In the case of e-liquid with nicotine, what doesn’t change regardless of bottle size is the required ‘Toxic‘ symbol (Skull / Crossbones) with the word DANGER underneath the symbol. This is because nicotine falls into the Toxic classification of the CCCR. Therefore, the symbol is required on the front center of every bottle and both the symbol and the word DANGER must be of a specific size.
Other required items on larger bottles are some or all of the ‘CONTENTS HARMFUL‘ section (Items 3-6 below). In addition, the child/pet safety statement (Keep out of reach of children and pets), batch number and/or made on date, age restriction label, manufacturer location, bottle size, nicotine concentration, and expiry/best before date are required for ECTA members (and most likely once Federal regulations are solidified).
It seems like a lot of information and putting it on a little 30ml bottle can be quite the task, but utilizing possible exemptions and good design you can still produce a very creative and attractive label while maintaining legal compliance. Using larger labels for the bottle, for example, is one way to increase the space to help improve your branding.
Take a look at the diagram below. It provides an example of what must be on a label, what’s recommended and what’s subject to exemption. This serves only as a guideline, not how your labels are expected to be laid out.
RED – Required by CCCR 2001 (ONLY with Nicotine)
YELLOW – Required by CCCR 2001 but subject to small container exemption. If used must comply with CCCR 2001
GREEN – REQUIRED for ECTA Members
BLUE – Optional but recommended
|CCCR, 2001/ECTA Compliant Label
|1 – Hazard Symbol||9 – Expiry/Best Before Date|
|2 – Signal Word||10 – Product Amount|
|3 – Specific Hazard Statement||11 – Manufacturer Location|
|4 – Negative & Positive Instructions||12 – Age Restriction Symbol|
|5 – Open & Close Instructions||13 – Allergy Warning|
|6 – First Aid Statement||14 – Nicotine Concentration|
|7 – Ingredients||15 – Child/Pet Safety Statement|
|8 – Batch Number or Made on Date||16 – Base Ratio for PG/VG|
Below are some of the more common mistakes that we see being made on label compliance when trying to apply ECTA / CCCR 2001 standards.
- Incorrect Hazard Symbol – Must be an "exact reproduction of the applicable symbol", except with respect to size and colour21, which in our case is the Skull/CrossbonesSchedule 2 Table indicating Toxic. The reason for the emphasis on "exact reproduction of the applicable symbol" is that we have seen many representations that are similar but clearly not what is contained in CCCR 2001.
- Hazard Symbol too small – Diameter must be large enough to cover 3% of the MDP (6mm MINIMUM), up to 50 mm22 Table
- Incorrect Position of the Hazard Symbol/Signal Word – The Hazard Symbol and Signal Word should be considered a single unit as there is a size/position dependency. They must be centred parallel to and near the base of the MDP26(1)(b).
- Signal Word too small – Must be at least ¼ the height of the Hazard symbol23. If your Hazard symbol is 8 mm in diameter, the Signal Word must be 2 mm in height.
- Signal Word and/or Specific Hazard Statement not all Bold and Uppercase – Both of these items Must be in all UPPER-CASE20(a) and in BOLD20(b) typeface.
- No border around Specific Hazard Statement “section” – Items 3-6 above should be grouped together for simplicity sake. These items must be surrounded by a Border29(b) or Boxed. The border may be a solid line, or a series of dots or dashes30
- Non-distinctive border around Specific Hazard “section” – These items must be "enclosed within a border that demarcates the information from other information displayed on the display surface."29(b)
- Non-CCCR 2001 items within Specific Hazard Statement “section” border – Only CCCR 2001 Safety information should be within that bordered section. The Border around the Specific Hazard Statement “section” enables consumers to distinguish between the safety-related information required by the CCCR, 2001 from the other information on the label29(b).
- Ingredients not in the correct order – According to the Food and Drug Regulations "Ingredients shall be shown in descending order of their proportion of the prepackaged product or as a percentage of the prepackaged product and the order or percentage shall be the order or percentage of the ingredients before they are combined to form the prepackaged product."B.01.008 (3). This means, if there is more VG than PG, Glycerin must be listed first. A high PG would need to have Propylene Glycol listed first.
- Nicotine not indicated on the Label – The Nicotine Level or Concentration must be indicated DIRECTLY on the label. Some manufacturers are either not putting it on the label or using color coded caps to indicate the strength. A color coded cap is not acceptable because if a child were to get their hands on the bottle, where is the cap?
- Handwriting or “markings” on the label – The CCCR 2001 states that the information on the label must remain "clear and legible and remain so throughout the useful life of the chemical product, or in the case of a refillable container, throughout its useful life, under normal conditions of transportation, storage, sale and use"17(b). If any E-Liquid drips onto the label, it will rub off any markings that might be on the label, potentially compromising the legiblity.