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.
Studies have indicated that using the device carries significantly less health risks than smoking, but more than vaping. Phillip Morris has spent £3bn developing iQOS, which it is now marketing as a healthier alternative to cigarettes.
PMI distributing iQOS posters to newsagents
A recent investigation by The Telegraph found that PMI has been supplying newsagents across Britain with window posters promoting iQOS. The Department for Health and the National Trading Standards Institute have confirmed that the posters breach a long-standing ban on advertising tobacco and tobacco-related products. Such Unlawful advertisement can result in a financial penalty or a custodial sentence of up to six months.
In response to the findings the public health minister, Steve Brine, warned that the department was prepared to take legal action. “We have been explicit that the promotion of tobacco products is unlawful – as my letter to Philip Morris International makes abundantly clear,” he said.
“Smoking kills 78,000 people every year and I am personally committed to doing all I can to protect people from the harms of tobacco. We expect PMI to stop this unlawful advertisement of tobacco products and we will not rule out legal action if they continue.”
PMI says that their actions are within the law
On the other hand Phillip Morris denies that the adverts are illegal and claims that the intention is making safer alternatives available to smokers in order to help them quit. “We have already replied to the Department’s letter asking for an urgent meeting to clarify the concerns. We believe that all of our activities are within the law. Our business is committed to helping smokers switch from cigarettes to better alternatives as fast as possible,” said Peter Nixon, UK managing director at Philip Morris.
Chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Deborah Arnott who is known to be in favour of using safer tobacco alternatives for harm reduction, agrees with the Health Minister. “The legislation is very clear that advertising which has the effect of promoting tobacco products is illegal. That includes iQOS, just as it includes pipes used for smoking tobacco. It’s a barefaced cheek for Philip Morris to argue otherwise,” she said.
Read Further: The Telegraph