PayPal Warned About E-Cigarette Legal Liability

Posted in e-Cigarette News by Electronic Cigarette on the August 22nd, 2009

PayPal has been warned about the legal consequences of continuing to facilitate the sale of e-cigarettes — a product the FDA has ruled is “misbrand[ed],” an “unapproved new drug” and “are illegal until they are cleared,” and whose sale has been prohibited by court order in at least one state. The legal warning comes as e-cigarette advertising has reportedly been banned on Facebook, and e-cigarettes which deliver Cialis as well as nicotine are now available.

PayPal was advised that providing payment for e-cigarettes “appears to be aiding and abetting the sale of these illegal products by providing payment vehicles to Internet sites which are selling them, and doing so in interstate commerce and in possible violation of consumer protection laws in the individual states.”

PayPal was also warned that: “As the FDA and others have noted,
e-cigarettes pose a wide variety of potential dangers to users, and perhaps also to those around them, both of whom inhale a mixture of nicotine (a dangerous drug) and propylene glycol (which is used in antifreeze, and may cause respiratory tract irritation).

Thus, in addition to possible legal liability for simply facilitating the sale of an illegal product, PayPal might well be named as a defendant should an e-cigarette user or a family member claim that some medical problem was caused or exacerbated by an e-cigarette illegally sold with PayPal’s assistance.”

It appears that other business entities involved, even indirectly, with the sale of this unapproved new product are taking steps to limit their potential legal liability. Two corporations in Colorado, faced with potential charges of violating consumer protection laws, have agreed to no longer sell the “illegal” products. .. AND

Facebook has reportedly decided that “we do not allow ads for electronic cigarettes and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads for this product.” ..

Meanwhile, it also appears that at least one distributor is providing e-cigarettes designed to deliver Cialis, with or without an added nicotine kick, and apparently without the need for a prescription.

“This illustrates just one additional potential danger of permitting businesses to decide for themselves to offer drug-delivery devices to the public without any FDA review or approval,” says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), America’s first antismoking organization. He warns that a sale-first approval-later policy allows drug sellers to use the public as guinea pigs to test the safety of the products.

Banzhaf also notes that other nicotine-delivery products — including nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nicotine sprays, and nicotine inhalers — all had to obtain FDA approval before they were permitted on the market. Other nicotine-delivery products which could not prove that they were safe — including a cigarette look-alike product named “Favor,” as well as nicotine lollipops — are not permitted to be sold.

Banzhaf’s scheduled appearance on NBC-TV Nightly News was a major factor in prompting the FDA to report that e-cigarettes contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed.
SEE: ..

The FDA said the toxic chemicals included diethylene glycol, “an ingredient used in antifreeze, [which] is toxic to humans”; “certain tobacco-specific nitrosamines which are human carcinogens”; and that “tobacco-specific impurities suspected of being harmful to humans - anabasine, myosmine, and β-nicotyrine - were detected in a majority of the samples tested.” .. AND

In addition to these known dangers, there are many other potential dangers which have not yet been evaluated by the FDA, and which may be even more serious. These include possible contamination, smokers who otherwise would quit instead remaining addicted to nicotine, the deadly danger nicotine inhalation can pose for people with risk factors for heart attacks, the propensity of inhaled nicotine to sustain or even trigger an addiction, the worry that youngsters will use e-cigarettes as “training wheels” on the way towards cigarette smoking, and the potential risks to those around e-cigarette users — including infants and young children, the elderly, those with existing medical problems, etc. — who will be exposed to the exhaled vapors containing nicotine and propylene glycol.

ASH, which served the legal notice on PayPal, had earlier warned credit card companies about their facilitation of the illegal sales of cigarettes over the Internet.

Then ASH wrote to the attorneys general of the 50 states asking them to take legal action. The result was a legal crackdown on companies facilitating the illegal sale of cigarettes on the Internet. AND

“Companies which facilitate the sale of a product determined by the FDA to be “illegal,” and which has such a large number of known and potential health dangers, should either discontinue their support or be prepared to face the legal consequences,” warns Prof. Banzhaf.

Professor of Public Interest Law and Executive Director
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
America’s First Antismoking Organization
2013 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // (703) 527-8418 //



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