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Heat not Burn news roundup – December 2018

heat not burn news December 2018

As you’ve probably noticed from the number of reviews we’ve had lately, things are pretty busy in the world of Heat not Burn. Most of the action is in the shape of new products, and we’ve been getting our hands on as many of these as possible so we can let you know what you’re like. That’s not all that’s going on, though. As HnB’s popularity grows, governments and the public health industry are really starting to sit up and take notice. My worry is that this is going to be e-cigarettes all over again; that a great new technology is going to be attacked by people who make a living out of complaining about cigarettes. Sure enough, there are signs of that happening in a few places around the world – but there are some more positive things happening too. Let’s have a look at the latest news from the wild and wacky world of heated tobacco products.

Altria scrap e-cigs, pin hopes on HnB

A big news item last week was that Altria, the company that sells Marlboro cigarettes in the USA, is ending production of its MarkTen and Green Smoke e-cig ranges. Altria say that this is because the products have a relatively poor financial outlook, and new FDA regulations mean it’s too slow and expensive to approve them. To replace the retired products the company is following a two-pronged strategy. One track is to buy a stake in pod mod maker JUUL Labs; the other is to become the US distributer for sister company Philip Morris’s iQOS if the FDA approve it for sale in the United States.

While we’re talking about iQOS, the latest version of the popular device has just been launched in South Africa. Available in Japan, Switzerland and Russia since mid-November, the updated system seems to be getting a rapid global roll-out. Unlike the 2.4 Plus, which gave the original iQOS design a facelift and some technical upgrades, the iQOS 3 is a completely new product. The basic concept is the same – a holder and a portable charging case – but both components are significantly different from the 2.4. The new PCC has a side-opening design rather than a flip top, and apparently some upgrades in battery capacity and charging speed.

On top of the iQOS 3, PMI have also released the new iQOS 3 Multi. While iQOS is the leading HnB product, it’s facing increasing competition from other devices, and they all use a different design concept. iQOS is the only popular system that uses a PCC and a holder that only has enough battery capacity to vape a single stick; all its rivals have larger batteries that store enough power to get through anywhere from eight to 30 HEETs. The iQOS Multi is aimed at users who prefer this; smaller than the complete iQOS 3, but a lot larger than the holder, its internal battery will last for around ten HEETs before it needs a top-up.

South African health nuts complain about iQOS 3

South Africa’s public health industry hasn’t wasted any time in criticising the iQOS 3 launch. Savera Kalideen, director of the National Council Against Smoking, was one of the first to start yelling. On the basis of no evidence at all, Kalideen claimed “Safer is not the same as safe. These products can still cause lung disease.” He demanded stricter regulations, although the government’s new Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill has already been criticised for making it harder to access reduced-harm products.

iQOS is also facing opposition in South Korea. In June the ministry of food and drug safety claimed that iQOS released higher levels of tar than a traditional cigarette. As tar is a combustion product, and HnB doesn’t involve combustion, this is pretty much impossible unless something has gone badly wrong. Needless to say PMI weren’t too happy, and asked the ministry to release the details of any testing that had been carried out. The ministry refused, and PMI are now suing. The ministry is complaining, but still refuses to back up its claims with evidence.

It’s not all bad news from South Korea though. Heat not burn is the most popular reduced harm option there, with iQOS, BAT’s Glo and the locally made KT&G Lil range all enjoying strong sales. South Korea is an interesting market. Some vapers who’re opposed to HnB claim that iQOS has only sold so well in Japan because e-cigs are almost impossible to buy there. However they’re widely available in South Korea – but HnB is still leading the reduced risk market.

PMI aim to protect farmers

It’s important to remember that tobacco harm reduction doesn’t just affect smokers – it can have impacts a long way from there. For example a HEET contains a fraction of the tobacco a cigarette does. As more smokers switch, demand for tobacco is going to fall sharply. That’s potentially very bad news for tobacco farmers. Although the public health industry tends to smear everyone involved in making cigarettes, HEETs or e-liquid as “big tobacco”, the truth is that almost all tobacco is grown by independent farmers. Anti-tobacco activists don’t care what happens to these farmers, but PMI South Africa chief Marcelo Nico says the company is working with suppliers to help farmers find alternative crops. That way, PMI’s goal of moving all smokers over to safer products won’t cause economic damage to farmers.

So overall, it looks like we’re getting the predictable reaction from public health nuts about HnB – they hate it. Of course they do, because they make a living from harassing smokers, and HnB has already converted a lot of smokers. From the public health point of view there are only two ways to react to it; suppress the technology so smokers keep smoking, and can keep being victimised, or claim it’s just as bas as smoking so they can continue persecuting users. Unfortunately, politicians listen to these clowns – even when the science is showing clearly that they’re wrong. If Heat not Burn fans want to avoid the sort of regulations and bans that are being applied to e-cigs, they need to start writing to their politicians now.

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A chorus of idiots

Hold my light

Personally I’m a fan of Philip Morris International’s “Hold My Light” campaign. I’ve been advocating for tobacco harm reduction for years, and it’s good to see PMI throw their weight behind the same cause. Campaigns like this have the potential to make a huge difference, and I think they should be encouraged.

If you missed it, Hold My Light is a multimedia campaign aimed at encouraging smokers to give up and switch to reduced-harm products. The centrepiece was a four-page advert in the Daily Mirror, backed by a website, video and other promotional material, and the theme was the simple message that if you smoke, it’s better to quit. You wouldn’t think that would be at all controversial, would you? Well, you’d be wrong.

Despite Hold My Light saying exactly the same thing as they’ve been saying for decades, anti-tobacco activists have greeted the campaign with an absolute shitstorm of criticism and abuse. Starting the day of its launch, PMI have been bombarded with wild accusations and hysterical conspiracy theories from a collection of people who really should know better, but very obviously don’t.

Cancer Reasearch UK

Cancer craziness

First up, we have George Butterworth from Cancer Research UK. I’ve been involved with vaping advocacy since 2013, and I know that among vapers there are some pretty mixed feelings about CRUK. The charity does generally support vaping as a safer alternative to smoking, but on the other hand it also tends to back more restrictions on what we’re actually allowed to vape. CRUK was a big fan of the EU’s notorious Tobacco Products Directive, for example, despite being repeatedly warned the law would take a lot of very good products off the market. George Butterworth “welcomed” the TPD, claiming it would reassure vapers that e-cigs were safer than smoking. That’s an odd thing to say about a law that enforced health warnings on every e-cigarette and bottle of liquid.

Now he’s at it again. Butterworth, who’s been telling smokers to quit for years, is frothing with rage at PMI because they’re running a campaign telling smokers to quit. He accused the company of “staggering hypocrisy”, apparently because PMI still advertises its cigarettes in countries where people like Butterworth haven’t banned them from doing it.

What Butterworth doesn’t get is that PMI, being a publicly traded company, has a legal obligation to look after its investors’ money. That means selling products, of course, but you can’t expect someone who’s never had to make a profit to understand that. Instead he says “The best way Philip Morris could help people to stop smoking is to stop making cigarettes.”

Well, this just tells us that George Butterworth is a complete idiot. Hasn’t he learned anything from Prohibition, or the decades-long and totally failed war against drugs? If Philip Morris stop making cigarettes tomorrow, smokers will just buy them from somewhere else. If all tobacco companies stop making cigarettes tomorrow, say hello to a global explosion of organised crime that will make Al Capone and the Medellin cartel look about as serious as shoplifting a Kit Kat.

PMI can’t just stop making cigarettes, and anyone who understands anything about economics knows that. As long as a there’s a demand for cigarettes – and that isn’t going to change anytime soon – someone is going to be making and selling them. It can be regulated tobacco companies like PMI who pay tax and obey the law, or it can be organised crime. “Nobody” is just not an option.

Action on smoking and health

Pains in the ASH

And then there’s Action on Smoking and Health. I don’t like ASH at all; this is no secret. I’ve had a public run-in with their CEO, Deborah Arnott, and chest-poked a couple of her minions over their bullying, coercive approach to vaping, harm reduction and everything else they choose to stick their noses into. So guess what? Their reaction to the Hold My Light campaign annoys me too.

First out of the box to whine about the campaign was of course Debs Arnott herself, a sour-faced specimen with the general demeanour of a small-town traffic warden. Arnott claimed, bizarrely, that the campaign is an attempt to make an end run around the UK’s ban on tobacco advertising. I don’t have a marketing degree, but to me it seems like advertising a product by telling people to stop using it isn’t really the way ahead.

Arnott was followed by Hazel Cheeseman, ASH’s director of policy. I’ve met her too. More pleasant than Arnott but just as misguided, Cheeseman is an earnest-looking creature better suited to teaching small children than making policy. Describing the campaign as “simply PR puff,” Cheeseman suggested that if PMI were serious about achieving a smoke-free world they would stop opposing anti-smoking legislation that “will really help smokers quit”. What she means is nonsense like plain packs and display bans, which real-world evidence says don’t achieve anything, and of course ever-increasing punitive taxes.

Get real

Let’s get this straight: I have spoken to senior people at PMI (and other tobacco companies). I have been to the Cube at Neuchatel and seen the time and money PMI are investing in reduced-risk products. I have used those products myself, and I enjoy using them.

None of Cheeseman’s regulations would ever have stopped me smoking. Higher taxes? I’d just have bought cheaper food to free up some money. Graphic health warnings? I’d have worked to collect the full set, then frame them and hang them on my wall. Plain packs? I used a cigarette case anyway. These laws are all useless, because they’re written and lobbied for by nanny statist clowns who don’t understand how real people think.

The truth is that all the outrage being thrown at Hold My Light by the likes of Butterworth, Arnott and Cheeseman is just self-righteous indignation. How dare PMI break out of their bad guy stereotype! How dare they work towards the same goal as CRUK and ASH? And how very double dare they do it by selling products that real people actually enjoy using? At this point it doesn’t matter what PMI choose to do; it’s going to be wrong, simply because they’re the ones doing it. If they ignore harm reduction and just keep selling Marlboro they’re heartless and don’t care about their customers. If they try to persuade people to switch to safer products they’re hypocrites. Any time they do anything that satisfies one of their opponents’ demands, those demands will simply mutate into something new and probably ridiculous.

Well, I’m sick of people like Arnott and Butterworth sticking their oars in all the time. Who elected these people? What did they ever contribute to our lives beyond endless bitching and whining? By what right do they tell private citizens what they should or shouldn’t do? It’s time for them to shut up and live our own lives the way we choose.

One of the better choices we can make is to quit smoking. As much as I enjoyed smoking it really isn’t very good for you, so it makes sense to stop – just like PMI are saying. And if you want to do that by switching to one of PMI’s safer products, like iQOS or Mesh, don’t pay any attention to carping nobodies like Cheeseman; just go ahead and do it.

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PMI announce the new IQOS 3

iQOS Logo

Philip Morris Korea announce the iQOS 3 and iQOS 3 Multi.

On 23rd October 2018 Philip Morris announced two new devices in the heated tobacco market, called the iQOS 3 and iQOS 3 Multi. The iQOS 3 will replace the iQOS 2.4 Plus and the iQOS Multi looks like a completely new addition to the iQOS family.

Here at Heat Not Burn we are huge fans of both the original iQOS 2.4 and iQOS 2.4 Plus devices so as expected we are really exited by this announcement. What this tells the world is that Philip Morris are constantly innovating in a very dynamic heated tobacco market. It would be very easy for them to sit back for a while on the 2.4 Plus but they have already seen how quickly the likes of KT&G are innovating with their own Lil and Lil Plus heat not burn devices. Also there are rumours of another Lil upgrade coming soon and that means PMI have got to do this simply in order to keep up. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

In terms of how it looks the iQOS 3 looks a lot like the 2.4 Plus but has had some minor tweaks including making the holder charge 40 seconds quicker. The iQOS 3 will also have the holder inserted into the charging unit via the side of the unit, we can’t see it making much difference although it does look very slick how the holder slides in. (fnarr fnarr!)

The iQOS 3 Multi looks to be based on the same design as the Lil, Lil Solid and BAT’s Glo, which means it will be a compact standalone unit with a built in battery and a small slider on the top of the unit to insert the HEET into. You can see what PMI are doing here, they are offering two options for people, either a holder with charger or an all-in-one, this is a very smart move offering the customer a choice between the two.

IQOS 3 CEO Statement

When is it going to be released?

Looks like it is being released into the South Korean market first in mid-November 2018, PMI have done this as that is one of their better performing markets, the South Koreans are absolutely loving heat not burn and will be all over this latest technical marvel.

It will get a European release very soon afterwards, and as soon as we are able to we will also start selling the iQOS 3 right here on this website!

This announcement is perfectly timed because it deflects attention from Philip Morris taking some flak recently for their “hold my light” campaign to convince smokers to switch from traditional smoking over to reduced risk products. They mainly got criticized by public health groups and cancer charities. Yes you read that correctly, Philip Morris are trying to get people to make the switch to a safer product and actually get criticized for it! This is the utterly whacky upside down world we are living in these days.

Expect more details on the iQOS 3 and iQOS 3 Multi on our blog as soon as we get more info on both devices.

iqos and 60 heets special offer

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Everything you need to know about the FCTC COP8 junket

COP8

Understanding the FCTC Conference of the Parties.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s (FCTC’s) 8th “Conference of the Parties” (COP8) gets underway on October 1. It is a bizarre meeting whose format results from FCTC technically being an international treaty. Thus, it theoretically requires serious formal meetings of national officials who have the authority to negotiate and make commitments on behalf of their governments. In reality, the idea of treating FCTC’s deluge of position statements and vague policy recommendations as the law of the land, as would be the case with a proper treaty, is laughable. Functionally FCTC is really just an overfunded special-interest lobbying organization, and a rather dysfunctional one. The COPs are exactly what you might expect based on that: gabfests in which delegations of unserious people (few of whom could actually commit their governments to anything) hold a cheerleading session and enshrine their flights-of-fancy in “official international treaty” documents.

 

The COPs are notorious for their paranoid exclusionary policies, including banning of reporters and other observers from many of their sessions. Consumers have no seat at the table, let alone industry, which FCTC declares itself to be diametric opposed to (and as a result, ironically grants industry control over their actions). Perhaps most notoriously, the international law-enforcement agency, Interpol, which plays a major role in fighting cigarette smuggling, was denied observer status because they engage in the obvious tactic of cooperating with companies that also work to stop smuggling. As much as these exclusions arouse ire, they would actually make perfect sense if FCTC were a proper treaty. Trade treaties are negotiated by states (via empowered serious officials who speak for their government, of course, not a gaggle of loons), without any direct participation by the stakeholders, and some steps in those negotiations are not possible without confidentiality. Military treaty negotiations are even more secretive, and ISIS and the Taliban are obviously not allowed to observe the meetings.

 

Paper Policemen

Paper policemen.

The problem is that FCTC is a treaty in name only, and the COPs do not resemble negotiations about a treaty. They feel like what they really are: political rallies. When a political rally excludes the press and stakeholder observers, we immediately suspect that they are up to something nefarious, which is certainly true in this case. Moreover, WHO’s rhetoric about why FCTC exists is that the “treaty” is designed to improve population health. That goal would be best served by including the actual stakeholders (consumers and industry), rather than having a group of non-stakeholders engage in uninformed discussions about top-down approaches. But health has become a mere pretense for the FCTC, and this was already true before the “treaty implementation”.

 

Instead of having a nuanced and complicated humanitarian goal, like improving health, the participants live in a fantasy world in which they are protagonists in a simplistic modern-style fairy-tale (think: Star Wars). They are at war against evil, facing an a enemy (a fictitious monolithic construct they call The Industry) with no discernible motivation other than to do evil. This means there is no room for mutually beneficial arrangements and no possible strategy other than total war (see above link for more of my analysis on that point). As a result, they act as if COP chattering sessions are a secret military conference, not realizing that it is they who are playing the role of The Empire, the Taliban, or ISIS (which, incidentally, was praised by some people who will be at COP8 for its anti-tobacco policies).

 

Has it ever been about health?

If FCTC were really about health, they would embrace low-risk alternatives to smoking. As anyone familiar with tobacco control knows, they do not. FCTC documents devote at least as much attention to attacking low-risk products as they do cigarettes. Much of the rhetoric targeting low risk products these days is about flavors and other features that supposedly attract young never-smokers. One might have some optimism about what COP8 will say about heat-not-burn based on this. HnB products are plain-old-cigarette flavored, are not sleek and sexy, and their use is not much easier to conceal from parents and teachers than regular cigarettes. They seem like the dream product for someone who genuinely wants to help smokers lower their risks without attracting many new young users.

 

The problem is that the focus on flavors and such is mostly just hollow rhetoric. A large portion of participants at COP8 are anti-tobacco extremists, a term I coined as follows: If someone had the choice between magically eliminating the harm from tobacco products, such that people could still enjoy all the benefits without health risk, or magically eliminating all tobacco products from existence, they would choose the latter. A substantial fraction of tobacco controllers would prefer to deny people the pleasure of tobacco use, regardless of whether there is health risk. Combine this with the fairytale opposition to “The Industry” (HnB being entirely a product of that great evil empire, “Big Tobacco”), and there is little hope for good news.

 

A few good men (or women.)

Of course, there will be non-extremists at COP8. There will be participants who really care about health, and even a few who actually care about people’s happiness. There will be those who understand how the world really works and recognize that their policies need to be realistic and will be useful only if there is stakeholder buy-in. But here is where the dysfunctional governance structure of FCTC comes into play. A real treaty negotiation would offer some possibility that the humanitarians and realists would prevail. Indeed, if delegations were comprised of real diplomats and other serious officials, there would at least be a bias in favor of realism. But instead the COPs function more like a student organization with a “there are no bad ideas” policy. It is a recipe for kakocracy, with the most extreme crazy people defining the agenda and policy positions. It might be that a majority of the “voting delegates” (again, since none of this is genuine public policy, neither membership nor voting really matters much) might think an extremist proposal is unrealistic or even loony, but they will not bother to vote against it, let alone speak out. What would be the point? In addition, they are (realistically) worried about being excommunicated from the club and losing access to the endless gravy train if they oppose extremist positions. Those with enough integrity to resist that pressure have already been excommunicated.

 

Anti-everything.

Thus, it is a safe bet that the “official” statements coming out of COP8 will be anti-HnB, anti-vape, and anti-snus. They will also find a little time to be anti-smoking, though worrying about smoking is just so 2005. Less snarkily, there is really not much for them to say about smoking that they have not already said. If FCTC were really a treaty, or even a policy analysis think tank, there would be a lot new to say about anti-smoking policies, particularly analyzing the actual nuts-and-bolts details. But FCTC does not do that. They offer flyover-level statements about what policies member states should implement, but without operationalizable details or program evaluation to assess whether they work (spoiler: almost none of them have any apparent effect).

 

Thinking again of a student-type organization, many of us can recall an experience from our youth of creating an organization and having twenty people show up and enthusiastically debate goals, philosophy, and language for weeks. After that is finished and it is time to start on practical tasks, only three of them ever show to do any real work. That is not a perfect analogy for the COPs (everyone goes home and does something to keep their lavish salaries flowing), but it is a pretty good metaphor (what they do is usually the functional equivalent of not showing up until the next political rally).

 

That is actually good news. There is a good chance that COP8 will issue some extremist condemnation of HnB, but this will be almost entirely cheap talk that has little impact. In only those few countries where WHO basically controls the health ministries (e.g., India), HnB might get banned as a result of a COP8 statement. In a few others where the loons have unfettered control independent of WHO influence (e.g., Australia, Finland), the same might happen, but it will not be because of COP8. The U.S. is a wild-card due to the unfettered power and arbitrary behavior of the FDA, but is not going to be influenced by FCTC. For most of the world’s countries, however, realism and humanity will probably prevail over COP8 statements, despite the signatures on the FCTC “treaty”.

 


 

Carl V Phillips PhD is a regular contributor on Heat Not Burn UK.