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Electronic Cigarette Refill Cartridges Withdrawn from Sale (19/12/08)
Following investigations by Highland Council Trading Standards Officers into the safety of the refill cartridges for an “Electronic Cigarette” product being sold in Inverness under the “Mini Cigarette” or “E, Cig” brand, packs of the refill cartridges, which contain a toxic nicotine solution and the product itself where sold with the refills, have been withdrawn from the market.
Gordon Robb, a Principal Trading Standards Officer with The Highland Council said: “Despite people’s general recognition of nicotine as being something that is contained in cigarettes and other tobacco products, nicotine’s toxicity to humans is not widely understood by the public. On the analysis we had carried out, a single refill cartridge, which is small enough to be easily swallowed, was found to contain many times more nicotine than would be found in a cigarette and based on advice I have obtained from the Scottish Poisons Information Bureau, contained enough nicotine that if swallowed could kill a young child.
“The refill cartridge packaging bore none of the warnings, tactile labelling or child resistance that is legally required for such a toxic substance, making the safety risk that these products represent all the higher.”
“Our general familiarity with the many reputable nicotine replacement therapy products on sale should not lead the public to make the mistake of comparing these with the dangerous products we are now highlighting. The well known brands of products designed to help smokers to give up the habit are all licensed by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) as being safe to use. Neither the electronic cigarette nor the refill cartridges involved here however are licensed in this way and have therefore not been subjected to the same degree of formal safety assessment before being placed on the market.”
During their investigations Trading Standards have identified that many more clones of this type of product are available on the internet and elsewhere in the marketplace and they have alerted their colleagues in the UK and in other European Member States, via what is known as the RAPEX (EU rapid alert system for all dangerous consumer products) system.
It is as yet unclear whether the other products available present the same degree of safety risk as has been found in this case, but there have certainly been calls from elsewhere in Europe for such products in general to be more tightly regulated.
The retailer and producer of the products involved that have been on sale in Inverness and via the internet has agreed to immediately withdraw the products from sale pending the putting in place of appropriate packaging and warnings.
Consumers are advised to immediately remove the refills to a place out of the reach of children.