The Ministry of Health has laid charges against tobacco company Philip Morris New Zealand relating to a new type of non-burning tobacco product.
The product, Iqos, was launched at the end of last year. It was promoted through an invitation-only website and used a battery-powered holder to heats tobacco sticks known as heets to give off vapour rather than smoke.
Heets are heated rather than burned like a traditional cigarette, to give smokers a nicotine hit.
The ministry said it considered heets were tobacco products designed for oral use other than for smoking and were prohibited under the Smoke-Free Environments Act.
Which shows how silly the Act is, if a correct interpretation. Tobacco, which is lethal, is legally sold in New Zealand. Reduced harm products which provide a nicotine hit but do not produce the toxins from burning tar etc are much much much safer than tobacco. Yet the Ministry of Health is saying they are illegal.
Philip Morris said the Ministry’s move demonstrated the need for comprehensive reform so that smokers could switch from cigarettes to smoke-free alternatives.
General manager of Philip Morris New Zealand Jason Erickson said the company believed it was helping to advance the Government’s goal of making the country smokefree when it introduced Iqos to New Zealand.
Erickson said the company was confident that the sale of Iqos and heets fully complied with the Smokefree 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,” Mr Erickson said. “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 e-cigarettes and e-liquid, and establish a pathway to enable emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products to be sold lawfully as consumer products.
Iqos is available in in more than 20 countries around the world, including the UK, Japan, Italy and Switzerland. Globally more than two million smokers have switched to IQOS and the company had plans to expand to key cities in 30 countries by the end of 2017, Erickson said.
Ideally people should not smoke anything at all. But if they are already a tobacco smoker, then getting them on reduced harm product has immense health benefits.