Federal health department sues online vape shop amid wider crackdown

An online vape retailer is being prosecuted for selling and advertising vapes to Australians, including children.

An online vape retailer is being prosecuted for selling and advertising vapes to Australians, including children. Photo: TND

The Department of Health has dragged an online vape shop to the Federal Court, alleging the company broke drug laws by selling nicotine products to Australians without prescriptions.

New South Wales-based businessman Amir Kandakji – owner of the now-defunct – allegedly exposed Australians to the risk of nicotine addiction, and failed to make sure his customers weren’t children, according to Federal Court filings seen by The New Daily.

The case is the latest in a growing crackdown on Australia’s burgeoning e-cigarette industry, following stern warnings about nicotine vapes from federal chief medical officer Paul Kelly and NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant.

Lawyers for the federal government argue Vapor Kings broke federal laws by advertising and selling e-cigarettes and e-liquids on local and overseas websites.

The lawyers alleged the company did so outside of “appropriate regulator controls”, such as prescriptions from doctors.

“Tobacco use is a significant public health problem in Australia,” the department argued in court filings.

“The promotion of NVP [nicotine vaping products] to persons not requiring those goods for smoking cessation may therefore increase the overall public health burden.”

Vape crackdown 

The government is seeking an injunction against Vapor Kings, which has already pulled down its websites, as well as further penalties for alleged legal breaches under the Therapeutic Goods Act.

Under current laws, businesses can’t advertise nicotine vape products or sell them to Australians without a prescription.

But businesses have sought to evade these rules by opening online shops in countries where vapes are legal and importing products into Australia.

The government alleges Vapor Kings did just that, through an alternative URL based in the United Kingdom that was embedded in its Australian site.

Government lawyers also allege the company failed to check whether its customers were adults.

“There were no meaningful measures in place to prevent the purchase and abuse of NVP advertised and apparently sold through the websites for recreational purposes, including by children,” lawyers have alleged.

The case is the latest in a regulatory crackdown on vape products in Australia and other countries like the United States, amid fears about a growing number of people – particularly children – becoming addicted to nicotine.

As The New Daily has previously reported, the federal government is pushing ahead with a public health campaign about the health risks of vaping.

Meanwhile, the NSW health department has promised to crack down on companies advertising and selling such products illegally.

Proponents argue vaping is less harmful than traditional cigarettes, which are legal and widely available in Australia.

But in the case against Vapor Kings, government lawyers argue that the evidence for vaping as a method to help smokers quit cigarettes was “mixed”.

“In some cases, users of NVP subsequently begin using tobacco products, such as tobacco (combustible) cigarettes,” lawyers said.

“Where this occurs, the user will be exposed to serious adverse health effects.”

The New Daily made repeated attempts to contact Mr Kandakji and Vapor Kings for this story but was unable to reach them.

Topics: Vaping
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