South Korea Sued Over Dangerous Vape Claims
TOBACCO giant and vape manufacturers Philip Morris Korea Inc is suing the South Korean government after it claimed their e-cigarettes contained a number of harmful substances.
The billion dollar global firm has filed a lawsuit for the disclosure of data from the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety after it released a report in June which claimed to have found five cancer-causing substances in their electronic cigarettes during tests.
The study claimed to have found not just harmful substances but the level of tar exceeded that of regular cigarettes in two of their heated smoking devices, including Philip Morris Inc (PMI)’s leading iQOS brand.
PMI claims the findings strongly contradict results from studies in Germany, Japan and China, which concluded they were safer than regular cigarettes and said it had thereby encouraged the country’s millions of smokers to stick to their habit.
The company filed its suit in Seoul Administrative Court after the ministry refused to disclose the data it used in its study.
It claims that the government wrongly focused on tar and that the dangers only apply to regular cigarettes, where smoke is created.
A ministry representative was quoted in a report by news agency Reuters on the court action, that it “will follow legal procedures as required”.
Members of the vaping community have praised PMI for taking action in ensuring South Korea’s millions of smokers are provided with accurate and factual information from its government.
According to Seoul’s finance ministry, sales of vapes in the country hit a record of 30.4 million units last May, with their collective stake reaching 10 per cent for the first time - but since the drug agency’s study they have fallen to around 9 per cent.
Brian Kim, corporate affairs director of the tobacco maker, said in a statement: “Due to the focus on tar, the ministry’s study resulted in encouraging customers to stick to conventional cigarettes instead of choosing products that contain sharply lower levels of harmful compounds.”
PMI’s U.S. Media Relations and Engagement manager Corey Henry was quoted in a report on US political website The Hill as saying: "The assessment conclusions focused on 'tar', an out-dated and potentially misleading measure, rather than on the relatively lower levels of harmful compounds, which the ministry acknowledged to be dramatically lower in heated tobacco product aerosol than in cigarette smoke.
“Obviously, the best choice is to quit smoking altogether; but the millions of Koreans who smoke have a right to choose better options based on accurate and non-misleading information."