In the judge-alone trial, PMI has begun defending the single charge after one charge of importing a non-burning tobacco product was dropped. The Ministry of Health brought the two charges against the HEETS maker, alleging the sticks for its IQOS heated tobacco product did not comply with classifications in the Smoke-Free Environments Act which regulates the sale of tobacco products.
Prosecutor Sally Carter said the case was about whether HEETS came under the Smoke-Free Restrictions Act which prohibits the sale and import of tobacco products not used for smoking. Radio New Zealand quoted Carter as saying, "[One] of those issues is whether, in fact, the product is a smoking product, whether the product ignites."
David Blodt, a lawyer acting for PMI, said the sale of HEETS should be permitted as they do not create second-hand smoke. "What this means of course, is that one of the really key statutory drivers of the entire legislation would be frustrated if all the people who might otherwise switch to this product are forced to keep smoking cigarettes," Blodt was quoted as saying.