France Fines Philip Morris €900,000 for Illegal IQOS Advertising

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    On July 9, according to Adiariocr, the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed fines totaling €900,000 against two Philip Morris companies for illegal promotion and advertising of their heated tobacco device, IQOS.

    Companies Involved and Fines

    The judgment targets Philip Morris France (PMF) and Philip Morris Products (PMP), with PMF fined €500,000 and PMP €400,000. These fines follow a history of aggressive marketing strategies employed by Philip Morris to promote IQOS in the French market, despite stringent regulations prohibiting tobacco advertising.

    Violations of Tobacco Advertising Regulations

    Since 2017, PMF has marketed the IQOS device in France, navigating a landscape where any form of tobacco advertising is banned. The French National Committee Against Smoking (CNCT) identified numerous instances of illegal advertising by PMF, which continued to promote IQOS through online platforms and tobacco shops. The court confirmed that although IQOS itself is not a tobacco product, it falls under tobacco product regulations because it can only be used with HEETS tobacco sticks, making any promotion of IQOS illegal.

    Court’s Judgment and Reasoning

    The Paris Court of Appeal upheld the December 3, 2021, ruling by the Paris Judicial Court, emphasizing that IQOS is inseparably linked to tobacco products. The court noted that the website continuously referenced tobacco and presented IQOS as a smoking alternative, which is prohibited under French law. This judgment clarifies that even indirect advertising strategies promoting devices used for tobacco consumption are illegal.

    Determination of Illegal Advertising Strategy

    The court categorized PMF and PMP’s advertising operations as illegal, highlighting their focus on the IQOS device rather than the HEETS tobacco sticks. This commercial strategy, aimed at promoting a device that enables tobacco consumption, was deemed a form of indirect illegal tobacco advertising. The campaign, which lasted over two years, significantly impacted tobacco consumption, with IQOS products accounting for 18.7% of the group’s global sales in 2021 and 32.1% in 2022. The court argued that this marketing strategy, implemented in France, was part of a global effort that influenced public health and consumer behavior.

    CNCT’s Response

    The CNCT welcomed the ruling, viewing it as a crucial precedent for protecting national and international public health. By reiterating that the IQOS device is linked to tobacco products, the decision could inspire other countries to combat the aggressive promotion of IQOS devices. This ruling aligns with CNCT’s goals of advancing tobacco control and safeguarding public health from the impacts of tobacco advertising.

    Impact of the Judgment

    This ruling significantly increases the initial €75,000 fine imposed by the Paris Criminal Court in December 2021. It underscores France’s commitment to strict regulation of tobacco product advertising and serves as a warning to other companies about the consequences of violating these laws. For Philip Morris, this judgment not only involves substantial financial penalties but also affects its marketing strategies and compliance efforts in the French market.

    Future Implications and Precedents

    The Paris Court of Appeal’s decision sets a significant precedent that could influence similar rulings in other countries. The long-term effects on tobacco advertising strategies and global tobacco control policies are substantial. Companies like Philip Morris may need to reevaluate their marketing approaches to ensure compliance with evolving regulations and avoid substantial fines and legal repercussions.


    What were the fines imposed on Philip Morris companies?

    Philip Morris France (PMF) was fined €500,000, and Philip Morris Products (PMP) was fined €400,000.

    Why was the IQOS device subject to tobacco product regulations?

    The IQOS device is subject to tobacco product regulations because it can only be used with HEETS tobacco sticks, making any promotion of IQOS equivalent to promoting tobacco products.

    What specific advertising strategies were deemed illegal?

    The court found that PMF and PMP’s advertising operations, which focused on the IQOS device, constituted indirect illegal tobacco advertising. The website and other promotional activities were cited as violations.

    How did the CNCT respond to the ruling?

    The CNCT welcomed the ruling as a significant precedent for protecting public health and combating the aggressive promotion of IQOS devices.

    What impact does this ruling have on future tobacco control policies?

    The ruling sets a precedent that could influence similar decisions in other countries, potentially leading to stricter global tobacco control policies and regulations.