TWO e-cigarette makers are heading to court after allegedly making misleading representations that their products did not contain any toxic chemicals.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced separate proceedings in the federal court against Social-Lites Pty Ltd and Elusion New Zealand Limited, claiming both businesses breached Australian consumer law.
It is alleged the companies made claims on their websites that the e-cigarette products being sold did not contain carcinogens or toxic chemicals, and did not contain any of the chemicals found in conventional cigarettes.
The ACCC commissioned its own independent testing of the products and alleges that the e-cigarette products did in fact contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals found in conventional cigarettes, including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.
Formaldehyde is classified by the World Health Organisation International Agency for Cancer Research as a Group 1A carcinogen, meaning there is sufficient evidence to show it is carcinogenic to humans.
Acetaldehyde is classified as a Group 2B carcinogen by the IARC. That classification is applied to a chemical agent that has been evaluated as being possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Meanwhile, Acrolein is classified by the World Health Organisation as a toxic chemical.
ACCC chair Rod Sims says it is imperative that suppliers have scientific evidence to support claims that their products do not contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
"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," says Simms.
"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."
The ACCC also alleges that the CEO of Social-Lites and the director of Elusion were knowingly concerned in the alleged contraventions by Social-Lites and Elusion respectively.
The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, injunctions, orders for an ACL compliance program, publication orders and costs.
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