The Federal Court has ordered three online e-cigarette retailers to pay penalties for breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Each company was found to have promoted their products as not containing harmful carcinogens and toxins, through independent testing later revealed the claims were untrue.
The courts also found that directors and CEOs of the companies: The Joystick Company Pty Ltd (Joystick), Social-Lites Pty Ltd (Social-Lites) and Elusion Australia Limited (Elusion), were also aware of contravening conduct that was taking place across their respective companies.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) undertook independent testing that identified the presence of the carcinogens and toxic chemicals in the products of Joystick, Social-Lites and Elusion.
ACCC acting chair Delia Rickard said businesses must ensure they provide the correct information to consumers as this was important for products that have the potential to cause harm to consumer health.
“Consumers were led to believe by this conduct that when using these e-cigarette products, they would not be exposed to the harmful chemicals found in ordinary cigarettes,” she said.
“In fact, they were exposed to the same chemicals, including a known carcinogen that has no safe level of exposure.”
Admissions were made by each of the companies and their respective individuals resulting in the court to order the following:
- Joystick pay a penalty of $50,000, and its director a penalty of $10,000;
- Social-Lites pay a penalty of $50,000, and its CEO a penalty of $10,000, and;
- Elusion to pay a penalty of $40,000, and its director a penalty of $15,000.
A media-release from the ACCC said it believed this was the first time any regulator has taken action for false and misleading claims about carcinogens in e-cigarettes globally.