Australia’s consumer watchdog has filed a lawsuit against two e-cigarette companies, claiming that the retailers gave out false information in saying that their products contained no carcinogens, reports Reuters.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken Social-Lites Ltd and Elusion New Zealand to Federal Court for allegedly misleading customers regarding the safety of the e-cigarettes they sell online.
The group commissioned tests for the e-cigarettes in question, and has accused the two companies of selling products that contain embalming fluid and weed killer: formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein. Formaldehyde is used to embalm people, and is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Group1A carcinogen, and acetaldehyde is classified as a Group 2 carcinogen – meaning both have shown sufficient evidence to be cancer-causing. Acrolein, which is used as an herbicide, is classified as a toxic chemical.
Rod Sims, chairman of ACCC, said,
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.
He added that there are growing concerns around the world regarding the composition of e-cigarettes and the effects these have on consumers. “The ACCC will continue to work with its local and international counterparts to ensure consumers are receiving accurate information about these products,” Sims said.
The legal proceedings started by ACCC are the first of its kind in the world.
Social-Lites and Elusion will be charged with fines of up to AUD $1.1 million ($817,960) for the violation. Social-Lites owner Lee O’Hare said that he is now consulting with lawyers and maintains that his products are not cancer-causing when used properly. “It’s only when people use vaporizers with high voltage capabilities do carcinogens form,” he said.
The use of e-cigarettes has increased rapidly in recent years, and has become a problem for regulators worldwide. In the US alone, e-cigarette sales are expected to reach $4.1 billion this year, reports Well Fargo Securities.
Experts have continuously debated on whether or not e-cigarettes are truly capable of helping people quit smoking, with new studies raising concerns on the safety of these products.