Tobacco giant Philip Morris approached a district health board offering to give devices away at no cost for "community-based trials, data collection and monitoring".
The company claimed there would be a significant public health benefit in the plan - especially for Maori, Pasifika and low income groups.
After inquiries from RNZ, the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield emailed all DHBs warning them not to accept the Philip Morris offer.
Richard Edwards of Otago University's Department of Public Health says the lobbying fits with the company's international playbook. He spoke to Susie Ferguson.