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Review – the new iQOS 2.4 Plus

iQOS 2.4 Plus
A box, with my new iQOS in it!

Competition in the Heat not Burn market is beginning to pick up, as you’ll have noticed if you read this site regularly; over the last few months we’ve tested several interesting new devices, from both major tobacco companies and Chinese independents. At the retail level one product is still dominant, however – Philip Morris’s excellent iQOS.

iQOS is pretty widely available now, and it’s the top-selling HnB system around the world by a long way. Technology doesn’t stand still, though, especially for an innovative type of product like this, and some of the devices we’ve been looking at include features that the iQOS has lacked up to now. When competitors are coming out with new ideas (and new products) all over the place, standing still is a great way to wake up one morning and realise you’re not the market leader anymore.

Well, PMI clearly don’t want to be in this position, because for the last week I’ve been playing with a new toy – the iQOS 2.4 Plus. Like the Lil Solid from KT&G I reviewed a few weeks ago this isn’t an entirely new device; it’s an upgrade of the iQOS 2.4 I had already. It is a pretty significant upgrade though, so we thought it deserved another look.

The review

The 2.4 Plus comes in a sturdy and attractive cardboard box. Lifting the top off reveals the usual plastic tray with the two main components resting snugly in their little nests – the portable charging case (PCC), and next to it the actual holder. At first glance these look exactly like my old iQOS 2.4 does, but closer examination soon turned up a few differences. I’ll get back to those though.

Anyway the tray lifts out to reveal a cardboard cover that opens up to give access to the rest of the goodies. The first things you’ll find in there are a warranty card and a very comprehensive, well-illustrated user manual. Under those is a charger and cable, a two-part cleaning brush and a pack of ten cleaning sticks. Along with the three packs of Amber HEETs that came with my starter kit, it’s all you need to get vaping with the new iQOS.

The accessories really are identical to the ones that come with the older version, by the way. Then again, they’re all high quality and do their jobs perfectly. There’s no need for PMI to update them, so they haven’t.

Back to the 2.4 Plus itself, then. As I said, despite initial appearances it isn’t identical to the 2.4. The PCC and holder are pretty much the same, and in fact they’re interchangeable (more on that later), but the vital electronics have been completely overhauled for the new model.

The new PCC is a sleek unit a bit smaller than the average smartphone. It’s a very clean and simple design; there’s a flip-up top at one end, a micro-USB charging port at the other and a row of buttons and LEDs down one side. The top button flips the lid open so you can get at the holder; that and the new Bluetooth button are now finished in a nice gold colour. The third button is less obtrusive; it’s the power button, at the bottom of the row. This lets you power the whole unit down, although I never do this and I’ve never spoken to anyone who does. On the plus side, a quick press on this button will show you the PCC’s charge status.

Between the two gold buttons is a row of five bright white LEDs. The top one, easily recognised because it’s elongated, lights up to show that the holder is charging. The other four show how much charge is left in the PCC, in increments of 25%; they’re illuminated while the holder charges, when the PCC is plugged in or if you press the power button.

Let’s move on to the holder, then. When you press the top button on the PCC, the cap flips open in a satisfyingly positive way (I must admit, I just love the standard of engineering on this device). Under the cap is the holder, nestled snugly in its charging slot. Again it doesn’t look like much has changed, but there’s been a lot of work done on the innards.

The new holder is the same slim, lightweight unit as before, with a single LED-illuminated button (again coloured gold in the new model) to turn it on. It’s small enough to be held like an actual cigarette, and just light enough that I can even work with it balanced unsupported on my lip like an old-time journalist’s unfiltered Woodbine.

I should also mention that Bluetooth button. Pressing this lets you link the PCC to any Android device with a Bluetooth connection, and you can then manage it with the My iQOS app for Android. Unfortunately, so far this app only seems to be available in Switzerland, and the current language options are German and French. I speak pretty good German but I don’t live in Switzerland, so I haven’t been able to test it out so far. However, it should be rolling out more widely in the near future. As soon as it does I’ll download it and let you all know what it does.

Overall the iQOS 2.4 Plus is a familiar package, but a superbly engineered one. Externally it doesn’t look much different from older versions, but a device like this runs on its electronics and that’s where the upgrades have been made. So, what’s it like to use?

Vaping the new iQOS

With my shiny new iQOS fully charged I dug out the holder, plugged in an Amber HEET and held down the smart gold power button. After a couple of seconds the holder vibrated to let me know it was powered up and heating – a nice touch that I’ve seen on other devices, but was missing from iQOS before. At the same time the LED in the button starts to pulse; when it switches from pulsing to a steady glow (just under 20 seconds) you’re ready to vape. It would be nice if it vibrated again to let you know it was warmed up, but the white LED is bright enough to do that job anyway.

The actual experience of vaping the 2.4 Plus is very good. There’s plenty of vapour, it’s nice and warm, and the flavour is excellent. I tested it extensively with both Amber and Bronze HEETs (seven packs in total, if you’re interested) and the performance is just great. Apart from my first experience with mild menthol sticks I’ve always been impressed with the iQOS, and the 2.4 Plus carries on the good work.

It’s also extremely usable. Unlike all the other devices I’ve tested, iQOS relies on the PCC to recharge the holder’s small battery between HEETs. This lets the holder come as close to the experience of holding a cigarette as it’s possible to get, but it does impose a delay between HEETs as you recharge it. This has never been a big problem for me, but PMI seem to have put some work into fixing it anyway. The 2.4 Plus PCC takes just two and a half minutes to fully charge the holder.

I mentioned earlier that the components are interchangeable between the old and new versions, so out of curiosity I vaped one HEET then put the 2.4 Plus holder in the 2.4 PCC to recharge. It worked fine, too – but it took almost four minutes. If you want the new high-speed recharge you need to use the 2.4 Plus components together. On the other hand, if you have an extra holder for your 2.4 the new PCC will top it up while you vape the new one.

A single vaping session on the 2.4 Plus lasts for five and three-quarter minutes or 14 puffs, whichever you get to first. When you have 45 seconds or two puffs left to go the holder vibrates again, to let you know it’s planning to switch itself off and give you the chance to grab some last-minute nicotine.

One thing that I didn’t notice when I first started using an iQOS is that the top cap of the holder slides. A common theme in my reviews has been the annoying way the tobacco plug in a used HEET sometimes stays in the device when you pull out the stick – the VCOT is the worst offender for this. Well, that isn’t a problem at all with the iQOS 2.4 Plus. When you’re finished vaping all you have to do is push the top cap up half an inch on its rails, like the slide of a very small pump-action shotgun, and the HEET will be neatly removed from the blade every time. I put 140 HEETs through this gadget and didn’t have a single problem with them coming apart on removal. Again, it impressed me with how much effort PMI have put into making this a user-friendly device.

Finally, let’s talk about battery life. I don’t know if the PCC’s battery capacity has been increased or if the new electronics handle it more efficiently, but it held out for an impressively long time. My 2.4 is close to fully discharged after one pack of HEETs; the 2.4 Plus, fast recharge and all, managed the best part of two packs. By the time it finally got down to 25% charge remaining there were 42 used HEETs neatly piled up in my ashtray.

The verdict

If you’re familiar with the iQOS already, well, this is an iQOS. You know roughly what to expect. However, it’s the best iQOS yet; the improvements make a real difference to the user experience, especially the fast charge from the new PCC. Even when I’m racing deadlines and getting through HEETs much faster than normal I never find myself impatiently waiting for the holder to recharge. The battery life is impressive, too; even if you’re a heavy user a single charge of the PCC should be enough to easily last you a day, and recharging it takes less than an hour.

Overall, the iQOS 2.4 Plus is a great device. I like several of the others I’ve tried out, but none of them come as close to the experience of smoking as the iQOS does. Part of that is ergonomic; the small, light holder can be handled pretty much like a cigarette, which makes it very easy to adjust. I get on fine with larger devices, but there’s no doubt the iQOS has a big edge in this department. On top of that it also delivers an excellent vape. Heets seem to have become the new standard, but they were designed for iQOS and they work outstandingly well in it.

If you already have an iQOS the new 2.4 Plus is an attractive upgrade, especially if you were thinking about getting another holder. Don’t; get the 2.4 Plus kit instead and take advantage of that super-fast charge. If you don’t already have an iQOS, but you’re looking for a safer alternative to smoking (or something closer to the smoking experience that e-cigs deliver), the best Heat not Burn device on the market just got even better – and you can get one here, along with three packs of HEETs, for just £79.

iqos and 60 heets special offer

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The Lil Solid from KT&G – Exclusive Heat not Burn UK review!

Lil Solid

You probably remember that, a couple of months ago, the Heat not Burn UK team were very excited about the Lil from Korean Tobacco & Ginseng. As far as we know we did the first review of the Lil that wasn’t written in Korean, and I have to admit we were impressed by it. Maybe more than any other device we’ve tested, this was a genuine rival to the iQOS. Easy to use and pretty compact, compatible with Heets and delivering both decent battery life and a very good vape, the Lil is a really good package.

What really impressed us, though, was that by the time our Lil arrived a new version was already hitting the shelves in South Korea and racking up impressive sales figures. That’s a pretty quick product life cycle, especially for a major company. Vapers are used to products that come and go in a matter of a few months, because that market’s driven by small and medium independent companies that need to innovate constantly to stay in the game. I expect something similar to happen in the emerging independent HnB sector, with devices getting updated or replaced every few months.

It’s a bit different for the major tobacco companies, though. They have to be more cautious, because unlike a small engineering firm in Shenzhen they’re going to face major blowback if they get it wrong. That’s why products like iQOS and Glo spend a couple of years on sale in limited test markets before they get rolled out globally; the company has time to identify and iron out any issues, while limiting their exposure if there’s a problem.

KT&G don’t seem to be as cautious as other tobacco companies, though. We hadn’t even heard of the Lil until last October, and a few months later I had one in my hand. By that time its replacement was already on sale. KT&G might not be a global player, but they’re still a big company – and for a big company, releasing two generations of a product in less than a year is fast.

Anyway, back to the gadget. We said at the time that we’d get one for review as soon as we could, and now it’s here. In fact it’s been here for a few days, and now it’s been through our intensive Heat not Burn UK testing process. Read on to find out what’s new in South Korean heated tobacco products!

The Review

The new product is called the Lil Solid, and it comes packed in exactly the same neat cardboard box as its older brother. Strip off the plastic wrapping and lift the magnetically-closed side flap, and you’ll find the Lil Plus sitting securely in a plastic tray. That lifts out to reveal an instruction manual (which I didn’t read because a) it’s all in Korean and b) reading the instructions is for girls) and, under that, a flap which covers another tray packed with accessories.

After giving the Lil Solid itself a bit of a double take I pawed through all the extra bits, which are identical to what comes with the original Lil – a USB cable and plug, some alcohol-soaked cleaning sticks and a neat little brush. Everything feels high quality and does its job very well. So, finding no surprises there, I went back to the actual device.

I mentioned that I gave it a double take when I opened the box. That’s because we’d been led to believe the Lil Solid would be smaller and lighter. Well, it isn’t. In fact my first impression was that the only difference between the new Lil Solid and my old Lil was that the new one is blue.

On closer inspection this wasn’t quite the case. The Lil Solid is about an eighth of an inch shorter than its predecessor because the base, which was slightly convex on the Lil, has been flattened. That means you can stand it upright if you want. I was always trying this with the Lil and even succeeded a few times, but it falls over if you look at it funny. The new one is a lot more stable, which I like.

They’re the same size, but the blue one stands up.

Apart from that tiny difference, though, they’re exactly the same size. In fact, just to check, I swapped the top caps around and they fitted perfectly. So if you were hoping for a device that packed the Lil’s performance into a smaller package, this isn’t it. On the other hand that’s not a big deal, because it’s a pretty compact unit anyway.

Once I’d examined the Lil Solid in detail I found a few more small differences. The sliding button that covers the heating chamber is a lot less plasticky, for example. The power button now has a neat metal trim, and the LED indicator in it is hidden until it lights up. Overall it feels like a more polished product. The top plate is still stamped out of some copper-coloured alloy, but it’s neat enough and completely functional.

There’s obviously been some work done inside, too. One of the things I liked about the original Lil was how easy it was to clean (or remove tobacco plugs that had detached themselves when I removed a used stick). All you have to do is pull off the plastic shroud that surrounds the heating chamber, and the tobacco comes out with it. The Solid keeps this neat system, but while the Lil’s shroud will fit in the Solid, the Solid’s won’t fit the Lil. I’m not totally sure what the difference is, but KT&G clearly thought it needed a tweak.

iqos and 60 heets special offer

Testing!

Playing with shiny things is always fun, but the important thing is how it vapes. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect here. We’d heard that the Solid would have an upgraded heating element, but then we’d also heard it would be smaller and lighter; well, you already know how that turned out. Anyway I plugged it in to top up the charge – a full charge takes about an hour – then dug out some sticks and got vaping.

This time I had four packs of KT&G’s own Fiit sticks to play with. Three of them were different varieties of Change Up sticks, which have a breakable flavour capsule embedded in the filter. The names of the flavours were a bit unhelpful – Change Up, Change and Sparky – but I was able to guess what they were. Change is a fresh spearmint, Change Up is a classic menthol and Sparky seems to be a mint/citrus blend that really was very nice. The fourth pack, labelled Match, was a medium tobacco blend that tasted pretty similar to an Amber HEET.

With the battery fully charged and a Match in place, I held down the button until the device vibrated and then started my stopwatch. I was hoping that it would heat up faster than the Lil’s impressive 15 seconds, but it didn’t. In fact it took a couple of seconds longer, but I’m putting that down to my office being a hell of a lot colder than it was on those sweltering days in June when I reviewed the original. Just to verify that I tested the Lil too, and got the same result.

Anyway, 17 seconds after I pressed the button the Lil Solid vibrated again, letting me know it was at running temperature, and I took a vape. How was it? Well, it was exactly the same as the Lil, which is to say it was very good indeed. I’m going to repeat what I said about this device being at least as good as the iQOS. There’s plenty of vapour, and it’s warm, satisfying and richly flavoured. Interestingly, although I was never a fan of menthols when I smoked, I found myself really enjoying the Change Up sticks.

I soon found one change that’s been made to how the device works; while the Lil ran for four minutes or 14 puffs, the Lil Solid shuts down after three and a half minutes. That makes sense; by that time the stick is pretty much done anyway. Like the Lil it gives you a warning buzz ten seconds before it powers down, so you can grab a last dash of nicotine.

Battery life was pretty much exactly the same as the original Lil. A full charge was good for roughly one pack of sticks, which is respectable. Combined with its quick charging time, there’s no reason to be caught short during the day unless you’re a really heavy user. Of course I am a really heavy user, but I was testing it at my desk. Plugging it in for a few minutes between sticks kept the battery fully charged.

Cleaning was as easy as I’d expected. I did find the Solid a little more prone to pulling the tobacco out of used sticks as I removed them, but it’s so easy to clear the residue that I wasn’t really bothered.

Conclusions

After testing the Lil Solid I think I can see how KT&G managed to get it on the market so quickly. This isn’t really a new device; it’s basically the original Lil with the rough edges polished off. So is it worth getting one if you’re in Korea? Definitely! Yes, it’s a slightly tweaked Lil. That’s fine; the Lil is an excellent heat not burn system. The Solid is just as good, a bit more refined, and it’s still compatible with Heets. If for some reason the iQOS 2.4 Plus isn’t for you, this is a great alternative.

I might be the only person in the western world who can do this.
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Dud or diamond? – The VCOT from Ewildfire

VCOT from Ewildfire

So, it’s that time again. The postman delivered a parcel from China last week, I’ve been playing with a new gadget since then, and now it’s time to give all you Heat not Burn fans the inside scoop on the latest and greatest (well, we’ll see about that) in tobacco vaporisation technology.

This time, my new toy is the VCOT from Ewildfires. It’s the latest product from Shenzhen, the Chinese industrial region that’s become the global hub of e-cigarette manufacturing and is now trying to grab a foothold in the HnB market as well. We’ve already reviewed a few devices from Chinese companies – the iBuddy i1, EFOS E1 and NOS – and a couple of them were pretty impressive. So how does the VCOT stack up?

The Review

The VCOT is brand new – so new that I’m not going to go through the traditional unboxing experience. The retail packaging hasn’t even been designed yet, so my review sample turned up in a plain cardboard box and a nest of bubble wrap, with no accessories. There wasn’t even an instruction manual; that arrived by email. It wouldn’t be fair to comment – or even speculate – on packaging and accessories that I haven’t seen, so for this review I’ll only be looking at the vaporiser itself.

As I said, the VCOT is brand new, and its designers have obviously tried to push the technological envelope a bit. Like the NOS we looked at a few weeks ago it’s a temperature-controlled device that lets you set the operating temperature to get the vape you want.

Bottom view of the VCOTApart from the temperature control feature, the VCOT is pretty conventional. It uses PMI’s widely available Heets, for a start. The body is basically rectangular with rounded edges and corners, and it fits nicely in the hand. You can’t hold it like a cigarette, as you can with iQOS, but it’s comfortable enough. It’s also very light. The body seems to be all metal and made in three parts; front, back, and a strip that forms the top and base as well as holding it all together.

So if the body is all metal, how come the device is so light? The answer is that the metal is very thin. The front and back are stamped out of sheet. I don’t know what the sheet is, but it isn’t steel – I couldn’t get my neodymium supermagnets to stick to it. It could be aluminium; the glossy, deep blue finish looks like it could be anodised.

Unfortunately, the thin metal gives the VCOT a slightly flimsy feel. If I squeeze the body between finger and thumb it flexes slightly and lets out a chorus of creaking and clicking sounds. Shaking it isn’t reassuring either; something – probably the battery pack – rattles around inside. That isn’t just an annoyance, because if things are free to move it increases wear and tear on wiring, so the device is more likely to fail (more on that later).

Top view of the VCOTMoving on, the VCOT has the usual Heet-sized (more on that, too) hole at the top, protected by a sliding plastic cover. The cover feels solid and has grooves moulded into its surface, so it’s easy to operate. The heating chamber itself is similar to the EFOS – there’s no spike or blade, and the heating element is built into the walls of the chamber. On the base of the device is a micro-USB charging port and an air intake hole that lines up with the heating chamber.

All the work is done at the front of the device, on an inlaid black plastic panel. At the top of this is the power button, and at the bottom the temperature up/down buttons and a blue LED to show current status. In between the buttons is a 0.7” OLED screen, which gives a nice clear, bright image.

So, on build quality, the VCOT isn’t really up to the standard of the other devices I’ve reviewed. Even the plastic-bodied EFOS has a much more solid feel to it. On the other hand the VCOT does pack in a 2,200mAh battery, which hints at good battery life, and it has the advantage of temperature control. If a gadget performs well I can easily overlook a creaky casing. So how does the VCOT stack up when it comes to actually vaping?

Vaping the VCOT

Putting a full charge in the VCOT takes about an hour, which is pretty reasonable, and you’ll know when it’s done – the LED on the front blinks brightly while it’s charging, and the battery indicator on the screen makes it easy to see how much progress you’re making. When the LED and screen switch off it’s fully charged and ready to go.

Loading the VCOT is pretty simple; all you have to do is slide the cover back and push the tobacco end of the Heet into the heating chamber. This has to be done carefully though, as there’s a bit of resistance for the last half inch. With no blade or spike to force into the tobacco, this turns out to be because the heating chamber is a tighter fit than the EFOS. Still, I managed to get all my Heets in without breaking them, so it’s not a major problem.

With a stick in the chamber you can now turn the VCOT on by pressing the power button five times. I think I’ve already vented my feelings about this; a single long press on the button is just as resistant to accidental activation, and these microswitches won’t last an infinite number of presses. Again, though, this isn’t a big deal.

Once the device turns on you’ll see the temperature readout on the screen start to rise. While it’s heating up you can use the up and down buttons to adjust it to the temperature you want. The temperature range is from 220-250°C, which seemed a bit on the low side; iQOS runs at 350°C, and when I played with the NOS a few weeks ago it was happiest between 320°C and 335°C. The VCOT seemed to be pitched a little low, but as it turned out this wasn’t really an issue.

Here’s something that was an issue; it takes forever to heat up. Our current champ in that respect is the NOS, which went from room temperature to 325°C in a mere nine seconds. The VCOT took just over a minute (61 seconds, to be precise) to show 250°C on the display, and that just isn’t good enough. Then it kept me hanging on for another 20 seconds before it buzzed to tell me it was ready to vape.

The vape’s OK, if you set it to 250°C.

A few little issues

A vaping session on the VCOT lasts for three minutes and 30 seconds. When your time’s up it simply buzzes and switches off; there’s no warning to give you time to grab a last puff. Then it’s time to take out the used Heet – and that’s where the fun really begins.

With most of the HnB devices I’ve tested (the Glo and NOS are honourable exceptions) I’ve had the occasional stick leave its plug of tobacco behind in the chamber. This is mildly annoying, but no big deal; you can easily take the top of the device apart and dig out the debris with a brush.

Burned and broken Heets – not a good sign.

With the VCOT, about half the Heets I used broke off at the joint between the tobacco plug and the hollow section above it. The first time this happened (which was also the first Heet I vaped with it) I found, to my annoyance, that there’s no way to dismantle the device for easier access to the chamber. I had to resort to digging out the tobacco with a bit of wire, then using a brush to clear the remaining debris.

Examining this debris, and the Heets I managed to extract in one piece, was interesting. The display might say 250°C, but the inside of the chamber is getting hot enough to char the Heet’s paper tube quite badly – and, a lot of the time, it’s burning it to ash. That seems to be why so many of them break; the paper disintegrates and lets the foil liner stick to the wall of the chamber. The actual tobacco isn’t burned, like it was with the EFOS, but I’m still not convinced this is really in the Heat not Burn spirit.

I also found that, sometimes, the VCOT just doesn’t work. I’d press the button five times, the display would light up, then the temperature readout would stick at either the high 20s or the high 40s. If I left it alone, an error message would flash up on the screen – “CHECK FPC!” – or it would just turn itself off. After some fiddling I found that sometimes pulling out the Heet would unblock it; the temperature would start to rise, and I could put the Heet back in and wait for it to reach operating temperature. Other times I had to plug in the charging cable briefly, which seemed to reset it, then I could power it back up again.

Conclusions

I’m conscious that this is a pre-release device, so I don’t want to be too hard on it. The VCOT has some potential. It’s compact and has decent battery life – a full charge will see you through a pack of Heets and maybe a little more. The vape is acceptable at the higher end of the temperature range. If it’s priced appropriately it could be a reasonable choice for those on a budget – as long as these points are fixed:

  • The heating chamber needs to be made slightly larger; it’s too tight. With no way to dismantle the device for cleaning, its tendency to tear the ends off used Heets isn’t acceptable.
  • Heat up time needs to be radically reduced, to 20 seconds or less. More than a minute is simply not good enough.
  • Reliability needs to be improved. I expect a device like this to work properly every time I switch it on. The VCOT doesn’t.
  • Whatever’s rattling around inside needs to be fixed in place. Any movement risks weakening, and eventually breaking, soldered joints. Is this the cause of its unreliability? Could be.

Deal with all these issues and, as I said, the VCOT might have some potential. It does have temperature control and its battery life is better than the NOS, so there are a couple of positives there. However, right now I just can’t recommend it. Get an iQOS instead.

iqos and 60 heets special offer

 

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Heat not Burn news roundup – August 2018

Heat not Burn news roundup

Over the last few weeks we’ve been pretty busy finding new Heat not Burn devices to review, and we have a few on their way to us right now. We still find time to check the news, though, and we decided it was time to give you another update on what’s happening with HnB around the world.

As usual the news is a pretty mixed bag. There’s some good news from the UK, where a parliamentary committee has given HnB a thumbs-up in its latest report on reduced-harm products. There’s bad news from India, where anti-tobacco activists are spreading misinformation about iQOS before it’s even on sale. Philip Morris are challenging New Zealand rules that force Heets to be sold with the same packaging and health warnings as cigarettes, and slowing growth for iQOS is being chalked up to increasing competition as other companies enter the market. Overall the last few weeks have been pretty lively for HnB, and we don’t expect that to slow down any time soon.

Indian ANTZ take aim at iQOS

iQOS is currently on sale in 38 countries around the world, but hasn’t yet challenged cigarettes in one of their biggest markets – India. PMI is now planning to launch the device in India, most likely in the first half of 2019, but anti-harm reduction activists are already mobilising to protect the status quo. The first salvo in this battle was fired in mid-August with an article in The Hindu, one of India’s two leading newspapers.

The article was written by Vandana Shah, South Asia Programs Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an American organisation that’s already notorious for its fanatical opposition to e-cigarettes. As would be expected from Tobacco Free Kids it’s very light on science, and very heavy on alarming but unfounded claims. Shah tells us that there’s no evidence HnB is safer than smoking (there is) and that the products are aimed at young people (they’re not). He claims iQOS is “designed and packaged to resemble a sleek smartphone” to appeal to under-25s – the only thing its design has in common with a smartphone is that it’s vaguely rectangular.

In another article, published by the Deccan Chronicle, cancer specialist Dr Vijay Anand Reddy claimed that “any form of tobacco is carcinogenic. The new method of heated tobacco does not mean that the chemicals in the products are reduced.” This statement is simply false; tests conducted by independent labs have found dramatic reductions in all significant toxins in iQOS vapour compared to cigarette smoke.

Almost a quarter of a billion Indians use traditional tobacco products, so a successful iQOS launch in the country has the potential to save a huge number of lives. However, that goal is threatened by extremists like Shah and Reddy. Indian harm reduction advocates need to come out fighting before this propaganda swings public opinion against safer products.

HnB competition heats up

Investment experts are talking down PMI shares this week in what many have interpreted as a sign of weakness in the market. Leading adviser Jefferies Group have changed their “Buy” recommendation to “Hold”, meaning that while hanging on to the shares is a good idea this isn’t the right time to be buying more.

Jefferies Group’s actual explanation for the change is good news for Heat not Burn, though. The downgrade was triggered by slower than expected growth in iQOS sales – and that’s happening because rival products are hitting the shelves. While iQOS is still growing and will continue to do so, it’s now facing some serious competition at last; BAT’s Glo is rolling out across Europe this year, KT&G are mounting a strong challenge in the important South Korean market with their Lil, and Chinese industry is piling on with a series of devices that piggyback on the availability of PMI’s Heets (and will probably help keep Heet sales rising).

Despite the downgrade, PMI is still outperforming Altria – the cigarette-only side of Philip Morris. That’s being driven by strong iQOS growth in Europe and other new markets, while Altria’s cigarette sales are sharply down.

PMI challenges NZ packaging rules for Heets

The last legal obstacles to selling Heets in New Zealand seem to have been removed, but PMI says the country’s laws are still too restrictive. In early August the company announced that to comply with the Ministry of Health’s interpretation of the law, they’ll put the HnB consumables in cigarette-style standardised packaging with the usual gruesome health warnings. However they’re only doing that under protest.

James Williams, general manager of Philip Morris NZ, says that labelling Heets with health warnings meant for cigarettes is “inappropriate and misleading”. With a growing body of evidence to say that HnB products eliminate almost all the health risks of smoking, the company wants the laws on packaging to reflect that key difference. While PMI are happy to note that Heets are not risk-free and do contain nicotine, they object to warnings that falsely claim iQOS produces smoke and causes the same health issues as cigarettes do.

According to Williams smokers deserve access to accurate and non-misleading information about reduced-risk products. Right now, New Zealand’s packaging laws aren’t giving them that.

UK parliament committee backs HnB

A report last week by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee was praised for strongly supporting e-cigarettes – but it also recommended that the government should ease restrictions and lower taxes on other tobacco harm reduction products, including HnB and Swedish snus. According to the influential committee tobacco products should be taxed at a rate that reflects the health risk they present.

HnB devices like iQOS are, conservatively, at least 90% less harmful than cigarettes, and that could make a big difference to the price of Heets. Right now, Heets are priced at roughly the same point as cigarettes, but that’s a hedge against them being taxed at the same level in the future. If they benefited from a much lover rate of tax there would be room for PMI to cut the price dramatically while still making a profit. iQOS and similar devices are already a tempting alternative to cigarettes; if the price of Heets fell in proportion to the reduced risk they deliver they’d attract even more smokers.

 

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