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Courting Disaster

The number of cases being taken out against vape companies is escalating.

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Public liability insurance was once considered a luxury by electronic cigarette companies, a notion laughed off by one well-known UK vendor at an event in 2013. Given the growth in vapers and authorities making legal claims against vape firms such protection should be essential for responsible manufacturers and resellers.

A short while back a class action lawsuit was filed against juice makers Five Pawns. The liquid manufacturer suffered from mass delisting by many resellers following the revelation that what they claimed was in the juice wasn’t backed up by independent testing. Threats, cease and desist letters and a flurry of conversations on social media ensued and then it all died down. Their presence at a UK vape event caused eyebrows to be raised but that was just a precursor to their range being stocked again in new start-up vendor websites.

But the news that American vapers with an eye on the potential $5 million prize has picked at the old scab. The action states: “Defendant does not warn its customers about the dangers of inhaling DA and AP, neither on its product packaging nor on its website. Instead, Defendant’s marketing campaign describes its e-liquids as if it were selling wine.” Although this is a speculative piece of ambulance chasing (there being no ambulance or bodies) it does serve as a shot across the bows for all juice makers. It continues: “Despite Defendant’s marketing campaign that boasts its ‘top-notch ingredients’ that makes for a ‘high-end experience,’ Defendant’s products are actually laden with harmful chemicals.”

And Five Pawns are not alone. This week a class action lawsuit has been taken out against one of the leading American brands. Cuttwood, well known to vapers on this side of the water, stands accused of “allegedly deceptive misrepresentation of their e-liquids.” Legal Newsline report: “The suit states certain flavors of the defendants' e-liquids contain the highest concentration of DA and AP levels of any e-liquid, but Cuttwood's warning label does not provide a full list of other carcinogenic ingredients and disease-causing substances contained in its products.”

The problem that exists for these companies is balancing what might be a detectable amount with what constitutes a discernable risk.  Should a company be compelled to disclose trace amounts at the risk of lost sales?

Doctor Farsalinos is unequivocal on this matter. He has previously stated that there is no reason for makers to be including flavourings in their products that contain diacetyl or acetyl propionyl. Farsalinos has previously run tests of his own on liquids, which we covered here. Cuttwood had their juice tested by Vaporshark, the results (and those for all the other juices they sold) can be found here.

The Ecigwizard chain commented on their blog earlier in the year: “It is morally repugnant that any vendor would not wish to confirm the quality of a product before selling it to their loyal customers – customers that, for the most part are unaware of the potential hazards.”

It is inevitable that other big names on the test sheets will feature in future speculative cases should these two actions be found in the complainants’ favour. In the meantime it is possible we will see a return to demands that makers publish their test results once more. What remains definite, the topic is going to remain a hotly debated subject.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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