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Philip Morris sues ministry over heat-not-burn

Oct 02,2018
Philip Morris Korea filed a suit against the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety demanding it disclose information from a government study that concluded heat-not-burn tobacco products are not safer than ordinary cigarettes.

The manufacturer of the IQOS-brand heat-not-burn device filed a suit in the Seoul Administrative Court in southern Seoul on Monday asking the Drug Ministry to share information on the methodology and data that led to the June report concluding that heat-not-burn products are unsafe.

This was the first legal move made by the tobacco company since the government’s June claim.

Philip Morris said it asked the ministry to disclose the information in July, but was denied access to certain details.

“We did receive data from the Food and Drug Ministry upon our request in July, but the papers we were given contained nothing new from the announcements and press releases that came before,” said a Philip Morris spokesman.

“The suit is aimed at gaining access to details that were refused at the time.”

In the first government report that analyzed health effects of heat-not-burn cigarettes, the Drug Ministry said that the device releases more tar than ordinary cigarettes and therefore it had no grounds to deem them as less harmful to the human body.

Heat-not-burn manufacturers, including Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, maker of the glo brand, have been strongly protesting June’s announcement, particularly the conclusion about tar.

Philip Morris reiterated Monday measuring tar should only be done to cigarette smoke and is not pertinent to heat-not-burn cigarettes, in which tobacco is not burned in the first place.

“By focusing on tar, the ministry may unintentionally be suggesting to smokers that they might as well continue using cigarettes despite their well-known health risks, instead of switching to products that generate dramatically lower levels of harmful compounds,” said Kim Byung-chul, Philip Morris Korea’s corporate affairs director.

Companies say the right standard is the level of harmful chemicals defined by international health institutions.

The ministry’s analysis - and those of other countries like Japan and Germany - showed that heat-not-burn cigarettes emit much less compared to normal cigarettes.

The ministry didn’t have an official stance or statement on Monday’s suit. A spokesman said, “We didn’t receive the papers yet.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]