A promotion deemed misleading.
The French subsidiary of tobacco company Philip Morris was ordered Friday by the Paris Criminal Court to pay a fine of 75,000 euros for "illegal advertising" concerning its IQOS heated tobacco device.
Philip Morris France and Philip Morris Products will also have to pay 50,000 euros in damages to two anti-tobacco associations which sued them, arguing that the two companies were breaking the law on tobacco products by promoting IQOS devices.
This small electronic box, marketed in France since 2017, works with tobacco refills mixed with glycerin.
Its technology prevents the combustion of tobacco.
Philip Morris puts forward his product as being "less harmful" than conventional cigarettes because it does not generate tar, but no independent study has confirmed this reduction in the risk associated with its use.
"The failure of an entire industrial strategy"
At the hearing on September 23, the company argued that it was necessary to make "the distinction between the electronic device and its refills" and that the former not being "a tobacco product", advertising for this product "was therefore not subject to the regulations relating to tobacco products".
"It is the failure of a whole industrial strategy" for one of the main cigarette manufacturers in the world, commented to AFP Hugo Lévy, lawyer of the CNCT, at the announcement of the judgment, welcoming that the judges are "not in the trap" of the argument of the tobacco company.
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"We take note of today's decision and are studying the possibility of appealing this decision", reacted Jeanne Pollès, president of Philip Morris France.
“We maintain that the allegations raised by the CNCT are unfounded.
We hope that the final outcome of the case will recognize the legality of our commercial practices of our alternative product which heats tobacco instead of burning it, ”she added.