As part of her crusade against smoking, Robertson is staunchly opposed to reduced-harm products when it comes in the form of the new heat-not-burn (HNB) devices. Out of step with her peers in New Zealand, Robertson thinks reducing harm is “inconsistent with the Government's goal of becoming a smoke-free country by 2025."
Recently, she claimed to have visited the IQOS store in Seoul, where she was disgusted the HNB product was “conveyed as a high-end fashion item”. She claims there was no indication the IQOS contained tobacco in the “heets”, there were no age sale restrictions in place, and that the sales person sold to her despite her saying she was a non-smoker.
The response will have left Robertson feeling the heat as she got burned.
“She was still happy to sell to me, despite the two signs claiming IQOS is only for smokers,” wrote Robertson (which probably indicates to all but the very dim that it is a tobacco product, crushing her first claim).
Dr Moira Gilchrist responded: “Here are the practices we apply in stores. CCTV footage shows staff followed them when interacting with you. They refused to sell to you. We take our responsibility in marketing & sales of our products seriously. Happy to discuss ways that we can further improve.”
The Good Conversion Practices (GCP) states that IQOS is for adult smokers only. It is distinctly possibly that Robertson was not asked her age due to the fact that she is a mature woman.
Moreover, the GCP does mention tobacco and advises that it is not for non-smokers, nor is it an alternative to quitting.
Gilchrist added: “[Tobacco] is mentioned, and is obvious to everyone entering the store, that IQOS is for use with tobacco. Looking closely at your main photo, you can see tobacco in a display case on the left.”
“Our store staff are trained to ask for proof of age from any potential purchaser who appears to be underage (LA in Korea is 19). They’re also trained to ask for govt issued ID at purchase,” Gilchrist continued.
PMI’s Chief Scientific Officer Manuel Peitsch then added a photograph of him standing next to the in-store version of the GCP.
Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos entered the debate by requesting that the video footage of events be placed into the public domain: “This is a very serious issue; someone is lying. This needs to be clarified.”
The IQOS store in Korea appears to be a model of good practice and, without providing any evidence to the contrary, Dr Lindsay Robertson seems to be engaging in deception and an attempt to smear PMI.