The Fair Trade Commission has warned air-cleaner maker Tornex Inc. about misleading consumers, sources close to the case said Monday.

The fair trade watchdog warned the company that it may have violated the law on truthful advertising by falsely claiming its smoke-control systems will “guarantee clean air.”

The devices are not fully equipped to purify cigarette smoke, which contains about 200 types of dangerous substances, including carcinogens, the sources said.

The Tokyo-based firm reportedly claimed on its Web site and in its catalogs that its systems will “solve all problems related to tobacco smoke,” even though it is difficult to eliminate most of the poisonous substances in gaseous form using current air purifiers.

The FTC’s warning came after Masaaki Yamaoka, a Hyogo Prefecture physician and an expert on smoking issues, filed a complaint with the commission over the misleading ads, the sources said.

Tornex produces and supplies air-cleaners for use in offices and public facilities, touting them as systems to prevent passive smoking.

Yamaoka filed a protest with Tornex in 2001 over the advertisement. After the doctor took the case to the FTC, Tornex modified part of its advertisements. Its Web site currently says the firm is “proposing” ways to resolve problems related to tobacco smoke.

Yamaoka has also filed complaints with the FTC against two major electronics makers over a similar problem. Although the trade watchdog did not take action against those firms, an industry organization has urged the companies to correct their ads, the sources said.

Commenting on the FTC’s action, Yamaoka said the makers, including Tornex, must have been fully aware that most of the harmful substances in tobacco smoke are not removed by their air-cleaners.

“How do they take responsibility for the fact that their products, touted as a solution to passive smoking, are already widely sold on the market?” he asked.

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