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Israel

Justice Ministry says iQOS product will be treated as ordinary tobacco

Previously, the company asked the US Food and Drug Administration to recognize iQOS as “modified-risk product.”

http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Health-and-Science/Justice-Ministry-says-iQOS-product-will-be-treated-as-ordinary-tobacco-485912

The world’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris International, faced an obstacle in Israel that has apparently influenced its position toward its heated-tobacco product iQOS.

Previously, the company asked the US Food and Drug Administration to recognize iQOS as “modified-risk product.”

Last week, Israel’s Justice Ministry notified the company that it accepted the position of three voluntary organizations in Israel that the product is actually a “tobacco product,” and all the restrictions that apply to tobacco products should apply to iQOS.

In parallel, Philip Morris reversed its previous position towards the FDA and now wants iQOS to first be recognized as a “tobacco product.”

The small Society for Progressive Democracy thus “made history,” as the new position will set the definition of the product for deliberations by the FDA.

The Israel Medical Association, the Israel Cancer Association and the small Society for Progressive Democracy thus “made history,” as the new position will set the definition of the product for deliberations by the FDA.

While the Israel Cancer Association and the Israel Medical Association sent letters to the authorities to protest against Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman for preventing restrictions on the sale and marketing of iQOS in Israel, the Society for Progressive Democracy headed by lawyer Shabi Gatenio actually applied to the High Court of Justice and asked for an Injunction againt him.

“It is a story of the little David toppling Goliath, Philip Morris,” commented lawyer Amos Hausner, the chairman of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking.

The limitations that now apply to all tobacco products will include iQOS, such as prohibiting its sale to minors, prohibiting smoking it in all public places where conventional cigarettes may not be smoked, excluding it from advertising in the electronic media and media for children and teens, and other restrictions for which violators are fined.

Under the rules of administrative law, the position of Justice Ministry professionals is binding upon all governmental agencies in Israel, and their position supersedes the one expressed by any political figure – in this case, the health minister.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has yet to decide on a petition by Avir Naki, a voluntary organization that aims to fight smoking, to prohibit Litzman from having any involvement in decisions on tobacco matters.

Dubek, the Israel tobacco producer and importer, has also filed an application in the High Court against Litzman, arguing that he was giving Philip Morris benefits that Dubek did not enjoy.

Hausner said that Philip Morris “officially changed its position here while its application was pending in the FDA, as a negative consequence in Israel might have negatively influenced the company’s position in its deliberations with the US over iQOS. We clearly learn from this case that politicians cannot determine policy on major public health issues like this; they must leave it to ministry professionals to set policy.

It turned out that Litzman was more protective of Philip Morris than the company itself demanded. As to Philip Morris, Hausner said that their products should meet the requirements of professionals and not only of the politicians.”

Commenting on the Justice Ministry decision, Philip Morris Ltd.’s spokesman in Israel said that it would “continue to market iQOS in Israel in a responsible way according to law so that adult smokers would have better alternatives than continuing to smoke cigarettes.”

The ministry said in a statement after the court decision was announced that “while waiting for the FDA’s position, we plan at this stage to place on the product all restrictions on tobacco products regarding marketing, advertising and smoking in public places.”

Health Ministry sued over soft treatment of iQOS

Dubek, a manufacturer and importer of tobacco products, sued the Health Ministry for showing favouritism by allowing Philip Morris International to skirt advertising restrictions in marketing iQOS, the Jerusalem Post said.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/Health_Ministry_sued_over_soft_treatment_of_iQOS.54143.0.html

Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman reportedly is waiting to see how US regulators deal with the tobacco heating device. In the meantime, iQOS is being sold and marketed without restriction in Israel. In its complaint to the High Court of Justice, Dubek said this discriminated against its tobacco products, which face restrictions, the Post said.

Tobacco company files suit against Health Ministry

Philip Morris chose Israel to be one of the first countries to market iQOS.

http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Health-and-Science/Tobacco-company-files-suit-against-Health-Ministry-484079

Dubek, Israel’s tobacco manufacturer and importer, filed a suit in the High Court of Justice against the Health Ministry on Monday for showing “favoritism” to the international tobacco company Philip Morris, which is marketing its no-smoke heated- tobacco cigarette iQOS.

Dubek said it is limited in marketing and advertising its own products, while Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman – against the views of public health professionals inside and outside his ministry – allows iQOS to be sold and advertised without limit.

This laxity will continue, Litzman decided recently, until the US Food and Drug Administration decides what to do about the product.

The sale and marketing of iQOS has been prohibited in the US and other countries until the FDA releases its ruling.

A few days ago, Avir Naki, a nonprofit organization that fights smoking, petitioned Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to revoke Litzman’s authority on all tobacco legislation and regulation because he has shown a “personal connection” to a number of issues relating to tobacco. Litzman met with Philip Morris lobbyists before announcing his decision.

Dubek said the ministry “has ignored blunt violations of the law for restricting advertising and marketing of tobacco products” by Philip Morris, thus carrying out unfair competition. It also charged that the Tax Authority does not levy sales taxes on iQOS and “causes a huge loss of revenue to the state coffers.” Sales taxes constitute 80% of the price of regular cigarettes.

IQOS, Dubek said, claims to be a “less-harmful product” than conventional cigarettes because the tobacco and additional chemicals are warmed but not burned.

But Philip Morris’s claim has not been proven, Dubek said, also complaining that iQOS is not required to carry any health warnings on the package.

Philip Morris chose Israel to be among the first countries to market iQOS, thus turning its population into “guinea pigs” in a “huge experiment for which we will all pay,” the Israel Medical Association’s Society for the Prevention of Smoking and Smoking Cessation said early this year.

Minister Litzman, The Tobacco Companies And Cash Envelopes Episode 2

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/511229/minister-litzman-the-tobacco-companies-and-cash-envelopes-episode-2.html

On Tuesday 12 Teves, YWN-ISRAEL reported on a Channel 2 sting investigation in which persons affiliated with the Hamodia newspaper, which is tied to Health Minister Litzman, accepted cash to arrange meetings with the minister via is closest confidants. The report also shows how members of the senior ministry staff, physicians, were willing to turn a blind eye to importing electronic cigarettes, which reports show are harmful to the tzibur’s health, all to accommodate the e-cigarette company representatives, who were distributing cash envelopes.

As explained in the first report, the undercover reporters established a fictitious company, SEC (Smoke Electric Cigarettes) and approached ‘macherim’ in Hamodia, primarily Yaakov Reinitz, who in exchange for cash, arranged meetings with senior ministry officials and with Minister Litzman himself. The first meeting was arranged during Chanukah, less than two weeks before they first met with officials in the Hamodia office in Jerusalem. The SEC representatives were seeking approval from the Health Ministry, or at least to refrain from interfering with importing their e-cigarettes to Israel.

It was also explained that Channel 2 has documented Litzman has met with heads of international tobacco companies, which he is prohibited from doing as per the FCTC (WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) Agreement that was signed by many countries, including Israel. If the Health Minister does meet with such persons, the public must be advised, which did not happen here.

Channel 2 also points out that Litzman, to the surprise of all, has been a lone vote objection to legislation to get tougher against the tobacco industry, hinting that he may have been bought out by persons representing the tobacco companies’ interests.

In the final chapter of the report, Reinitz is recorded telling SEC folks “I am sitting in the minister’s office and I am told representatives of Phillip Morris were already here and they are supposed to meet with the minister.

The SEC representatives (Channel 2 reporters) entered Litzman’s office with their hidden video cameras and met with the minister along with personal aide and confidant to the minister, Moti Bobchik and of course, Reinitz.

They get right to the point, telling Litzman they wish to import electronic cigarettes in the coming weeks and seek the ministry’s assistance, adding “we already met with Prof. Itamar Grutto who said ‘at the moment it cannot be authorized’, but added you, the minister has the ultimate say in the matter”.

Litzman explains the matter is still being debated and at first, the thought was to prohibit the e-cigarettes, then instruction the SEC officials to continue to remain in contact with Prof. Grutto. He added “Whatever Itamar decides is what will be. I am not getting involved with this. At present I am dealing with junk food, not this”.

It is pointed out during this tenure, Litzman has not moved ahead any legislation seeking to curtail smoking and tobacco. The minister has also blocked legislation that seeks to limit or prohibit electronic cigarettes. Litzman advises them to remain in touch with Reinitz, who will be updated by him. The meeting lasted for seven minutes, during which they learned Litzman has given Phillip Morris permission to go ahead advertising a new product.

In a subsequent call with Reinitz, he promises SEC officials “A client of mine will not be …… and they needn’t worry”.

Once again Litzman’s office insists it has no knowledge of anyone asking for money or persons paying to see him. He insists his office is open to all and accepting money for such meetings is illegal and unacceptable. Regarding electronic cigarettes, Litzman’s office reports it is working to advance bills seeking to limit them in Israel. However, the minister’s voting record and ministry actions in recent months tell a different story, that the minister is not working against tobacco companies. In addition, Phillip Morris has invested “billions” in a new electronic smoking product and appears to have received a green light in Israel.