The Internet retailer Amazon.com is reportedly moving to stop selling or supporting the sale of e-cigarettes on its huge website. Its action follows receipt of a notice of potential legal liability for facilitating the sale of a product the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has declared is “illegal.”
The FDA also reported that it found deadly toxins and cancer-causing chemicals in the “smoke” produced by e-cigarettes and inhaled by users; an announcement which came as NBC TV Nightly News was about to blow the lid off the agency’s refusal to take action, a news report which was to feature public interest law professor John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and his legal actions aimed at compelling the agency to finally act.
Previously, after receiving a notice of potential legal liability from ASH, PayPal took a similar step, and Facebook has also reportedly banned promotions for e-cigarettes. In other venues, e-cigarettes have already been banned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and virtually in Oregon, restricted in Finland, Malaysia, and Singapore, threatened with legal action in Connecticut, and are the subject of a major class action law suit.
Now, reports public interest law professor John Banzhaf, they seem about to be banned in California, a move which could be followed in Kentucky and then in other states; more cigarette wholesalers are finding it necessary to provide product liability insurance; and a federal court is about to issue a ruling which could uphold banning the import of e-cigarettes into the country.
Amazon.com has reportedly begin sending the following message to merchants. “We are writing because it has come to our attention that you have listed a product that we have determined is inappropriate for Amazon.com. We have prohibited the sale of electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, nicotine nebulizers, refill material for any of these, and similar products on our site. A list of ASINs removed from our catalog may be found at the end of this message. Amazon.com reserves the right to remove any listing we determine to be illegal or inappropriate for our site. For more information, please see the Restricted Products section of our Help pages. To avoid the blocking of your selling account, please do not relist this product or any other prohibited content on our site.”
Amazon’s action was taken after receiving a notice of potential liability from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a national antismoking organization, which earlier filed a legal petition urging the FDA to take action against the products until they were approved for sale by the agency. ASH also sent a very similar warning letter by Certified Mail Receipt Requested to PayPal before that organization likewise cracked down on e-cigarette sales.
E-cigarettes present potential risks to users, to young people who might use them like candy cigarettes, and to others — including infants, the elderly, and those with various medical conditions — who might be in the immediate vicinity when e-cigarette users exhale a mixture of propylene glycol (which is used in antifreeze, and may cause respiratory tract infections) and nicotine (a deadly and highly addictive drug). There may even be more deadly ingredients in the exhalation.
The FDA’s Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis analyzed the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from two leading brands of electronic cigarettes. In one sample, the FDA’s analysis detected diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans, and in several other samples, the FDA analysis detected known carcinogens, including nitrosamines. These tests indicate that these products contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed.
PROFESSOR JOHN F. BANZHAF III
Professor of Public Interest Law at GWU, and
Executive Director and Chief Counsel
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
America’s First Antismoking Organization
2013 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // http://ash.org