Monica Etsy Image

If you think only corporate America needs to worry about claims substantiation, think again.  As reported in the Washington Post, popular handicrafts sale site Etsy is cracking down on witches and Wiccans for lack of advertising substantiation regarding their claims about potions, charms, magic wands and the like sold on the site.

Etsy, a $1.8-billion marketplace for crafters and creators, is a treasure trove for buyers seeking unique goods not typically found in retail stores and outlets.  But this alternate sales venue is not exempt from the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations requiring accurate and truthful marketing and advertising.  So Etsy has recently started removing products whose makers’ claims are outrageous and unsupported—namely potions, charms, and magic wands.

While these magic-makers are not likely to face costly consumer lawsuits or class actions over their claims, loosing access to this popular sales portal will have a real and immediate impact.  The question is whether they can magically transform their goods into “novelty” items and still attract buyers looking for “Love Potion #9.”

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EPA has proposed a new rule to restrict the use of seven toluene diisocyanates (TDIs) in consumer products.  TDIs are commonly used in the production of polyurethanes found in foams, coatings, elastomers, adhesives and sealants used in consumer products.  Flexible foams (for cushioning) and rigid foams (for insulation) are the chief uses for TDI.

Published on January 15, 2015, the proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) would apply to all consumer products containing any of the seven TDIs.  In most instances, consumer products will be covered by the rule if they contain these chemicals at any level of concentration.  All manufacturers, importers, and product processers utilizing these chemicals would be required to notify EPA at least 90 days before such activity commences or resumes.  This would give EPA an opportunity to examine the intended use of products, evaluate the risks and potential hazards, and potential ban or restrict the products’ manufacture, processing or import.

For more information about this proposed rule, including information and deadlines for submitting public comments, see our full report here.

Many experts agree the California public has become immune to the warnings on goods and premises required by Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Instead of educating the public, the more notable outcome is a burgeoning cottage industry of plaintiff attorneys bringing frivolous “bounty hunter” enforcement lawsuits against businesses for minor or illusory violations of the statute. As a forthcoming report from the California Attorney General shows, 73 percent of all private settlement payments—totaling $12.7 million—went toward private enforcers’ attorney’s fees and costs in Prop 65 lawsuits settled in 2013. This trend prompted Gov. Brown to declare in May 2013 that Proposition 65 reform was necessary to end these “frivolous shakedown lawsuits.”

In response, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment issued proposed amendments to the regulation on March 7, 2014. Under these notional reforms, businesses operating or selling products in California would need to substantially change their warnings if their products or premises contain certain chemicals listed as “known” carcinogens or reproductive toxicants. OEHHA has claimed — with little support — that these changes will provide “more clarity to the Proposition 65 warning requirements and more specificity regarding the minimum elements for providing a ‘clear and reasonable’ warning for exposures that occur from a consumer product, including foods and exposures that occur in occupational or environmental settings.”

The opposite is likely to occur.

Continue Reading The Questionable Benefits of California’s Prop 65 Reform