The West Australian – Tim Clarke
The boss of an online e-cigarette company has been fined $55,000 after being pursued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for falsely claiming the products did not contain cancer-causing chemicals.
In what is believed to be a world-first case, John Burden, of Noranda, who now works in Bali, was the boss of the New Zealand-based Elusion company selling e-cigarettes that were said to be “loved by customers across the world”.
The company — which generated revenue of nearly $1.5 million in the two years to 2016 — also claimed the products contained no harmful chemicals such as acrolein, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde.
However, when the ACCC tested e-cigarette products, traces of all the chemicals were found, prompting it to take the company to the Federal Court under consumer protection law.
Mr Burden and his company were found to have made the claims that the e-cigarettes were chemical-free “recklessly and without reasonable grounds”.
“Elusion made the statement with the intention that consumers who were seeking to avoid exposure to the harmful chemicals found in conventional tobacco cigarette smoke would be induced to purchase its e-cigarette products,” Justice John Gilmour said in his judgment.
“It is imperative suppliers have scientific evidence to support claims their products do not contain carcinogens,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
Elusion, which is now in liquidation, also has to pay $5000 in costs.