The Federal Court of Australia has ordered Vapor Kings to pay $4.9 million for unlawfully advertising nicotine vaping products (NVPs), in breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.
The court also ordered Mr Kandakji, the Director of Vapor Kings to pay $100,000 in penalties for failing to prevent Vapor Kings’ breaches of the Act. Of this amount $35,000 is to be paid to the Commonwealth with the remaining $65,000 to be suspended on the condition that Mr Kandakji complies with an injunction.
Nicotine vaping products are prescription-only medicines, and it is generally unlawful to advertise them to the public.
Despite being warned about alleged unlawful advertising, the company and Mr Kandakji continued to advertise and sell the products for some months.
The court accepted that ‘there is the significant risk of harm arising from the use of NVPs’ and found that ‘the contraventions are serious; they involve numerous breaches of s 42DLB of the Therapeutic Goods Act, which regulates the advertising of “therapeutic goods” and was introduced to promote the protection of public health.’
‘Unlawful advertising of nicotine vapes is a serious concern in the Australian community. This has the potential to increase inappropriate use of nicotine vapes without a prescription, particularly among young people. Nicotine vapes pose health risks including nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning, exposure to toxins, and serious injuries and burns.
Additionally, it is still unclear what the long-term health impacts of vapes may be,’ Professor Anthony Lawler, Deputy Secretary of Health Products Regulation and head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) at the Department of Health and Aged Care, said.
‘The TGA is working with state and territory regulators and other federal agencies as part of strong action to combat the unlawful advertising, import and supply of vaping products.’
Vapor Kings and Mr Kandakji have also been ordered to pay the Department of Health and Aged Care’s costs relating to the court proceedings.
This case serves as a reminder to individuals and businesses that breaching the Act can have serious penalties including fines and civil or criminal court action.
The TGA granted a legal permission allowing only pharmacies and pharmacy marketing groups to advise where a person can fill their prescription for a nicotine vaping product, without mentioning specific brands or types of products. Other individuals and businesses, such as tobacconists, vape stores and convenience stores, are not permitted to advertise these products in any way.