Philip Morris Japan penalized record-high 550 million yen

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IQOS ad offering a discounted price for registered members. Photo from a Consumer Affairs Agency press release.

On June 24, 2020, Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency ordered Philip Morris Japan to pay over 550 million yen (about $5 million) for violating an advertising law. The penalty was a record high for such violations.

According to the Consumer Affairs Agency’s Representation Division, from January 2016 to March 2018 Philip Morris Japan distributed flyers and other ads for its heated tobacco product IQOS offering 3,000 yen off for registered members for a limited time. However, even after the specified period ended, Philip Morris Japan continued to release ads for limited-time discounts.

Together with journalists from 10 countries around the world, Waseda Chronicle has been reporting on misleading IQOS ads. Although it has not been conclusively proven that IQOS represents a lower health risk than conventional cigarettes, Philip Morris Japan capitalized on the Covid-19 pandemic to promote its heated tobacco product with newspaper ads targeting those “spending more time at home.”

(Originally published in Japanese on June 24, 2020)

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