New Zealand court gives Philip Morris nod to sell heated tobacco product

A man uses an IQOS e-cigarette at an outlet in London, Britain, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A Wellington court gave the New Zealand unit of Philip Morris International the green light to sell its heated tobacco product, dismissing a case by the country's health authorities.

New Zealand's Ministry of Health had argued the HEETS product would fall under the country's "Smoke-free Environment Act's" ban on tobacco products for chewing or any other oral use.

The product, known as IQOS, is a sleek, penlike device that heats tobacco but does not ignite it - an approach Philip Morris says produces far lower levels of carcinogens than regular cigarettes. It is used by nearly 4 million people in 30 markets outside the United States and needs Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization to be marketed in America.

HEETS is the branded name of tobacco sticks used in IQOS.

"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.

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia; editing by Diane Craft)