The iQOS device, is a Heat not Burn (HnB) smokeless alternative to combustible cigarettes and works by heating tobacco leaves known as Heets or HeatSticks. These refills which look like short cigarettes, must be inserted into the device and are heated up once it is switched on.

Arguing over labels

A recent review by COT in the UK, analyzed two HnB devicecs amongst which iQOS, and found them to be less risky than regular cigarettes.

Earlier this month the Ministry of Health took PMI to court, arguing that selling HEETS is against local law as they would fall under the country’s “Smoke-free Environment Act’s” ban on tobacco products for chewing or any other oral use.

“It’s the heat sticks that contain tobacco, and there’s no problem that this product contains tobacco,” said Health ministry prosecutor Sally Carter whilst addressing the Wellington District Court. She admitted that the issue came down to legal fine print. “The real problem is whether this product falls within the Smokefree [Environments] Act 1990,” she said.

Carter had pointed out that the fact that the device cannot be ignited is an issue. “Significantly, because of the way the Act is structured there are issues whether in fact the product is a smoking issue, and a smoking product. The definition of ‘to smoke’ means that the product needs to be ignited,” she added.

The focus should be on health risks not legal fine print

Thankfully, the case has been dismissed. “We welcome the Court’s decision. This case does, however, highlight the need for urgent reform of regulations surrounding e-cigarettes and other smokeless tobacco products,” said Philip Morris New Zealand General Manager, Jason Erickson.

iQOS has now been successfully launched in over 30 countries, and Philip Morris claims that up to now approximately 4.7 million smokers have switched from regular cigarettes to the HnB product.

Read Further: Channel NewsAsia

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