New rules needed

| May 22, 2017

The decision by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health to take action against Philip Morris New Zealand (PMNZ) over the sale of its smoke-free heated tobacco product demonstrated the urgent need for comprehensive reform so that smokers could switch from cigarettes to smoke-free alternatives including heated tobacco products, according to a PM press release published by scoop.co.nz.

The Ministry of Health has filed a complaint in the Wellington District Court against PMNZ over the importation and sale of the company’s Heets tobacco sticks, which are the consumable part of its IQOS heat-not-burn product, according to a stuff.co.nz story relayed by the TMA. The ministry considers Heets to comprise tobacco products designed for oral use other than for smoking, which are prohibited under the Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990. A hearing in the case has been set for June 2.

The general manager of PMNZ Jason Erickson said the company had firmly believed it would be helping to advance the government’s goal of securing a smoke free New Zealand when it introduced its smoke-free product IQOS to New Zealand last year.

PMNZ launched the IQOS device and Heets tobacco sticks in New Zealand in December 2016 as part of the company’s stated global commitment to replacing conventional cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives.

Erickson said the company was confident that the sale of IQOS and Heets fully complied with the Smoke-Free Environments Act (1990) and other relevant legislation in New Zealand.

“The section of the law referenced by the ministry in its action against Philip Morris was originally put in place in the 1990s to address American-style chewing tobacco,” Erickson said.

“We stand behind IQOS and Heets. But it’s clear that old 20th century laws are not sufficient to address new 21st century technologies that New Zealand smokers are embracing as they move away from combustible cigarettes.”

The New Zealand Government announced in March that it would legalise the sale and supply of nicotine electronic cigarettes and e-liquid, and establish a pathway to enable emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products to be sold lawfully as consumer products.

“We support New Zealand’s Smoke-free 2025 goal,” Erickson said. “Philip Morris looks forward to working with government to ensure IQOS and Heets are fully understood in the context of the regulations being developed for e-cigarettes and emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.”

The PM press note said that IQOS was available in in more than 20 countries, including the UK, Japan, Italy and Switzerland. Globally, more than two million smokers had switched to IQOS and the company had plans to expand to key cities in 30 countries by the end of 2017.

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Category: Breaking News, Harm reduction, Litigation, Markets, Regulation, Technology, Vapor

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