E-cigarette makers fined for cancer-free claims

Three vaping brands taken to court.

E-cigarette makers have been slapped with fines by the Federal Court for falsely claiming their vaping products don't contain chemicals linked to the growth of cancer.

Joystick, Social-Lites and Elusion have been ordered to pay up after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) won three separate court cases against each manufacturer.

The Federal Court ruling – a world first, says the ACCC – found the online companies misled customers by advertising e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking.

But independent testing commissioned by the competition watchdog found the presence of chemicals linked to the growth of cancer, namely formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein. E-cigarettes sold by Social-Lites went one further by also including acetone.

The Federal Court fined each company's upper executive for "being knowingly concerned" in violating consumer law.

Joystick and Social-Lites were each fined $50,000, with the respective director and chief executive fined an additional $10,000 each.

Elusion was fined $40,000, while its director was issued a fine of $15,000.

Businesses must provide accurate information to the public, especially when the products they're selling may harm the health of consumers, says Delia Rickard, acting chair of the ACCC.

"Consumers were led to believe by...using these e-cigarette products they would not be exposed to the harmful chemicals found in ordinary cigarettes.

"In fact, they were exposed to the same chemicals, including a known carcinogen that has no safe level of exposure."

More than 30 Australian e-cigarette suppliers have been 'reminded' of their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, in particular to ensure information provided to consumers is accurate.