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News - e-cigarettes ruling

Landmark deciscion on e-cigarettes

10 July 2014

A year-long investigation by Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns) has led to a landmark court ruling in Cairns.

In mid-2013, Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns) received a complaint regarding the alleged advertisement and sale of e-cigarettes at the James Cook University Smithfield campus.

Environmental Health Officers identified the man responsible for advertising the product and arranging the sale through internet purchases, and seized about 30 millilitres of liquid nicotine.

The liquid nicotine seized was so strong that 1 millimetre of the product seized contained four times the lethal dose for a child.

On July 10, a Queensland first case for breaches of the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 was heard at the Cairns Magistrates Court.

The defendant entered a plea of guilty to two charges: the possession of liquid nicotine and advertising for sale regulated poison - in this case liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes. He was ordered to pay a fine of $2500, no conviction was recorded.

Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns) Manager for Environmental Health Brad Milligan said a huge amount of work had gone into compiling the case for prosecution.
“I am extremely proud of our team of investigators for compiling such a detailed case from an anonymous complaint and we will continue to be on the front foot in investigating any further breaches,” he said.

“It is a great outcome to have achieved this result in what was a test case into a novel product that, despite an explosion in popularity worldwide, presents a significant health risk to users.

“Many of these products do not undergo any validation or health testing to ensure their safety. They are branded with colours and flavours that appeal to children and young people and have caused significant injury and in some cases death, after ingestion.”

Liquid nicotine is extremely toxic and has been linked to serious injury and death. It is classified as a Schedule 7 poison that requires appropriate authority for sale or advertising and is illegal to carry.

In 2013, 17 cases of accidental ingestion of liquid nicotine products were reported to the Poisons Information Centre. Of these, 11 were children between the ages of two and four in Queensland.

Mr Milligan said if any member of the public suspected they may be in possession of a substance that contains liquid nicotine to contact their local Public Health Unit for advice on identification and disposal.

The conviction comes less than a month after Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young launched a state-wide warning of the dangers of inhaling liquid nicotine through dispensers such as e-cigarettes.

Media contact: 4226 3220

Last updated: 4 August 2014