AN e-cigarette shop has been accused by a tobacconist of “unfair competition” by illegally selling and advertising tobacco products in a case that makes legal history.
Lawyers for the two sides argued the case in court in Toulouse yesterday with the buraliste saying e-cigarettes were a tobacco product and should only be sold through the legal monopoly of the tabac.
He added that it was illegal to advertise tobacco products but the e-cigarette shop – sited near the tabac in Plaisance-du-Touch – had a window full of advertising which was aimed at persuading people to start using e-cigarettes and tobacco.
He said e-cigarettes "recall the act of smoking" and were supported by the four major world tobacco companies. The e-cigarette was another smoking product which was advertised as such and which used “cigarette” in its name.
However, the lawyer for Esmokeclean, the e-cigarette shop, said there was no legislation covering e-cigarettes, and no laws on advertising them as they did not exist when the Loi Evin was passed in 1991.
He said e-cigarettes were just an everyday product and were not a tobacco product or a medicine. They were not part of the legal restriction on tobacco sales only through tabacs.
He added: “They are the addiction, we are the cure; there’s an irony there.”
The tribunal will give its decision on December 9.
Photo: Michael Dorausch