Philip Morris to go to trial over 'Heets'

American cigarette maker Philip Morris will face a trial in March over importing and selling an allegedly illegal tobacco product in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health says it considers a Philip Morris electronic "tobacco stick", known as Heets, illegal - it is designed to heat up, but not burn, tobacco until it releases nicotine in a vapour.

The company faces two charges over the Heets, as the Ministry said they fall into a category of tobacco for oral use that was not smoking, and so were banned under the Smoke-free Environments Act.

Philip Morris said in March it was confident the Heets were legal.

The two charges the company faced had a maximum $10,000 penalty.

The jury trial is set down for five days, beginning March 5.