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Australian Ecig Retailers in Court

Two electronic cigarette retailers stand accused of mislabelling their products and making false claims of safety.

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The decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to take two electronic cigarette online retailers to court is seen by some as part of the country’s continued war on vape. Others are heralding the move as being significant in promoting higher levels of safety and understanding. What is clear from the media coverage is that the Daily Mail has no intention promoting anything other than hits on its page from angry vapers.

The ACCC acts as a consumer watchdog and has launched an action against Social-Lites (represented by GoVapeLiquid) and Elusion New Zealand. The move has prompted some to find them guilty before the case has even started and declare that this justifies that a tougher stance on vaping should be taken – tricky considering vaping is (idiotically) all but banned in Australia to begin with.

The Guardian reports Quit Victoria director Dr Sarah White saying: “It beggars belief that you can have a rechargeable battery device heating up a liquid of unknown composition, which you use at your mouth for hours at [sic] end, with no safety standards at all.”

The companies stand accused that they made false representations (that their products did not contain carcinogens or toxic chemicals) on their websites. The ACCC contend that the products do contain formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.

“It is imperative that suppliers have scientific evidence to support claims that their products do not contains carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “This is particularly important when, as here, products are designed to be inhaled and are being differentiated from conventional tobacco cigarettes because they are claimed not to contain toxic chemicals.”

“There is an increasing level of concern among international, national and state authorities regarding the composition of e-cigarettes, and the likely effects of their use. The ACCC will continue to work with its local and international counterparts to ensure consumers are receiving accurate information about these products.”

Or, as the Daily Mail puts it, “they sold 'safe' products containing herbicide and embalming fluid.” The prejudging doesn’t stop there as demonstrated by an Australian news outlet: “YES, e-cigarettes are bad for you.”

On a regional vape forum, one member called Cloudy wrote: “I think the ACCC may be launching yet another failed prosecution here. The story does not live up to the silly headline though.” It won’t be that clear-cut though. The initial understanding is that Social-Lites will not defend the case.

“[We are a] very small independent company that realistically cannot afford to fight [the case],” said a company representative. “We will be getting some trials done on our Premium Starter Kit and take it from there.”

Also, someone claiming to represent GoVapeLiquid wrote in reply to Cloudy saying: “Hi guys, the situation is not good unfortunately, the full story is that in 2013 we made a 15 second advert which was played in Newcastle. The advert had at the end in text only: No carcinogens, No Smoke No tar. Stupidly I let the advert run without really looking into it close enough, something I am now regretting."

"I would never openly claim that ecigs have no carcinogens; I have always stated to all our clients that they are just a smarter better alternative to smoking. We are trying to get some kind of free legal advice; we are only a small company & obviously cannot compete with the ACCC. Personally I feel we are just Guinea pigs, they are going to do what ever they can to discredit vaping, and by that they have taken a silly text comment totally out of proportion."

"My mistake but I’m sure after we were told and it was immediately removed it could have been ended. By afraid not, court it is and we will hope for the best! Thanks for your support. Cheers Lee.”

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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