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Heat not Burn in 2018 – How did it go?

Heat Not Burn 2018

Merry Christmas from the Heat not Burn UK team! So it’s that time again. The turkey is eaten, the kids have filled the house with shredded wrapping paper, everyone’s drunk a little too much (except me) and you’ve taken refuge behind the computer for a while to catch up on your favourite nicotine technology.

We’re nearly at the end of 2018, and it’s fair to say it’s been a busy year for Heat not Burn. Stuff has been happening all over the place. Politicians and health activists have campaigned both for and against the technology. A minor civil war broke out among consumer advocates. Predictions about where HnB was going to go sent tobacco company shares up and down. And, maybe most importantly for you, a whole bunch of new devices hit the shelves.

Opposition to HnB grows…

I wouldn’t say this was the year that put Heat not Burn on the radar, because it was there already, but it’s been showing up as a much bigger blip in 2018. That means it was probably inevitable that the same public health extremists who’ve been fighting so hard against vaping would start to turn their fire on heated tobacco.

New Zealand has been making some progress in harm reduction recently, with e-cigarettes becoming more widely available after a flirtation with Australian-style prohibition. The country has also decided to allow the sale of HEETs, with the last legal obstacles being removed in August. Unfortunately some genius decided that they had to be sold in the same standardised packaging as cigarettes, complete with graphic health warnings. PMI have pointed out, quite reasonably, that HnB doesn’t cause all the gruesome health conditions shown in the warnings. So far they’ve agreed to sell HEETs with the warnings, but they’re doing it under protest.

…but so does support

Meanwhile, in the UK, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has come out strongly in support of harm reduction. A report, released in August, focused on vaping but also covered other reduced harm products, and Heat not Burn came in for some favourable attention. The Committee recommended that products like HnB should be taxed at a rate that reflects their risk to health; all the science so far says heated tobacco eliminates at least 90% of the risks of combusted tobacco, so obviously products like HEETs should be taxed at a much lower rate than cigarettes.

Pod mods really took off

The popular JUUL pod mod has been around for a couple of years now, but in 2018 we saw a few serious rivals emerge. While our main focus is on heated tobacco we also like the idea of an e-cig that’s effective, simple to use and doesn’t need advanced wire-winding skills and a degree in electrical engineering.

You’ve probably noticed a few pod mod reviews starting to appear on the site recently. We think these are a great option if conventional vaping doesn’t appeal to you and you don’t get on with HnB for some reason. In the UK at least, they also work well alongside HnB. There’s a growing number of places where you can vape but not smoke, and HnB is a bit close to smoking for some of them. Having an iQOS for when you can use it, and a good pod mod for vaping-only areas, gives you more options.

Some vapers lost their minds

Heat not Burn isn’t the same as vaping an e-cig, but it’s the same basic idea – inhaling nicotine without all the harm that comes with cigarette smoke. Some people prefer one, some prefer the other and personally I like both, so there’s definitely room for them to coexist.

So I was surprised, and not best pleased, when some fuss broke out early this year. A couple of vape reviewers decided, for reasons known only to themselves, to start attacking iQOS. Their gripe seemed to be that PMI were asking vape shops if they wanted to sell it. Clearly that’s up to individual shops, and any that don’t want to sell iQOS don’t have to, but these clowns seem to have decided that this was an evil plot to take over and shut down the vaping industry. No, I don’t understand it either.

There’s more HnB stuff!

A year ago we’d tested iQOS and Glo, which were the only two dedicated HnB devices we could get our hands on at the time. We’d also looked at a couple of loose-leaf vaporisers to see how they worked with tobacco (reasonably well, but not great). And then we pretty much sat back and waited to see what happened next.

Well, what happened is that a whole load of Chinese companies decided to get in on Heat not Burn the same way as they had with vaping. Sensibly, instead of developing their own proprietary consumables and then trying to build global distribution networks for them – the hardest part of introducing a new HnB system by a long way – most of them decided to just use PMI’s HEETs, which are already widely available.

The result has been a steady stream of new devices coming on the market. Some of them have been a bit dubious, while others are very good indeed – check out our reviews to see what’s available. You won’t find most of them in the shops but they’re available online, and some of them are genuine rivals to the iQOS.

Of course, PMI haven’t been sitting on their hands either. The iQOS has been steadily upgraded – we’re currently selling the 2.4 Plus version – and the new iQOS 3 family is now being released. For the first time this gives you a choice between the classic iQOS format of a compact holder and charging case or a larger device with enough power to vape several HEETs in a row.

The pace of development this year has been manic. Between getting our hands on the first Chinese devices last winter and what we’re seeing now, the technology is coming on very fast indeed. We’re pretty excited about what 2019 will bring.

Looking forward

So 2018 has been a busy year, and the pace is still picking up. In 2019 I expect to see more governments notice HnB – which probably isn’t a good thing, unfortunately – along with a lot more hysteria from our old friends in the tobacco control industry. Meanwhile the big players like PMI and BAT will continue to develop their products and roll them out into new markets. Expect to see even more new products, too, with the majority of them being HEET-compatible.

Overall we’re pretty excited about the way things are going. Yes, the attacks from public health are a worry, and we can rely on politicians to do the stupidest thing possible, but the science on HnB’s health effects is looking good and the products themselves are getting better by the month. Keep checking us out for the latest news as it happens.

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