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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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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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Pod Mod review – the new iQOS Mesh

Pod Mod review

A few weeks ago I talked about pod mods, the new generation of ultra-convenient e-cigarettes that are popping up on shelves all over the place. Although we’re mainly interested in Heat not Burn devices here we think pod mods are pretty cool too – they’re much easier to use than conventional e-cigs, which is ideal if you want something that’s as simple as a cigarette. We’re also now selling one, the new iQOS Mesh from PMI, so I thought it would be a good idea if I checked one out to see what it was like. A Mesh was duly ordered, and turned up late last week along with a supply of the VEEV pods it eats.

Before I go any further it’s time for a quick confession. In my previous article on pod mods I said I already had a Mesh. Well, that turned out to be only partly true. Last year I “borrowed” a PMI Mesh from Dick Puddlecote, and at the time I was quite impressed with it. However the new iQOS-branded Mesh is a very different animal. It shares the same design philosophy, but every part of the device and its pods is bang up to date. So, if you’ve read anything about the old Mesh, forget it; the iQOS version is a brand-new product. Let’s have a look at it.

First impressions

The Mesh in its box.

The new Mesh comes in a neat cardboard box; pull the top off and there’s the device itself, nestled in the usual plastic tray. It didn’t take long to start spotting differences. The new Mesh is much longer and slimmer than the old one, and also has a higher quality feel. My old Mesh has a rubberized plastic body, quite short and with a flattened oval cross section; the new one is aluminium except for the plastic end cap, and it’s round. One nice touch is that there’s a flat strip down one side to help stop it rolling away if you lay it on the table. Two-thirds of the body has a nice satin finish; the hollow top end is highly polished.

This is a very simple device. There’s a single power button which turns the Mesh on or off when pressed for three seconds. On the end cap is a micro-USB charging port and an LED indicator that tells you it’s charging. The other end is open; that’s where you plug in the VEEV pod.

Overall the iQOS Mesh feels very solid, but it’s also remarkably light. It’s a much bigger device than a JUUL or MyBlu, roughly the size of a large cigar, but every time I pick it up I’m surprised by how little it weighs. It’s pretty impressive, considering the all-metal body and the fact there’s a 900mAh battery packed away in there.

Apart from the mod itself, there isn’t a huge amount in the box. Lift out the tray and open the cardboard lid underneath, and you’ll find a charging cable and a UK plug adapter for it; that’s all.

IQOS MESH BANNER

The review

Anyway, I don’t believe in messing about, so after playing with my new toy for not very long I plugged it in and topped up the battery. It was pretty well charged straight out the box, so the next time I looked away from my screen for a minute it was ready to go (a full charge takes about an hour, and it has a passthrough feature, so you can vape while it charges).

Old (left) and new Mesh pods. They both hold 2ml of liquid.

With the battery fully charged I dug out a Tobacco Harmony-flavoured VEEV pod and unwrapped it. These are also very different from the old Mesh pods. For a start, they’re a whole lot smaller. The old pods clipped over the end of the battery, and had a lot of empty space inside; the new ones plug into the hollow cone at the top of the mod, so they can be a lot more compact for a similar liquid capacity (I can’t remember how much the old ones held, but they were TPD-compliant, so no more than 2ml; the new ones contain 2ml of 6mg, 11mg or 18mg liquid). The actual heating element is the same idea, though; instead of a coil it’s a small square of fine wire mesh which seems to double as a wick, so there’s no risk of anything burning. In fact the Mesh is actually a temperature control device; it regulates the power going to the wick to prevent overheating and the dreaded “dry puff”.

To stop liquid moving around inside unused pods and dribbling out the mouthpiece there’s a small rubber seal fitted to each pod. Once you’ve unwrapped the pod all you have to do is pull out the seal and plug the pod into the end of the device. They fit either way up; just don’t use any force to insert it. If it’s not going in just twist it gently until it does.

With a VEEV loaded, all you have to do is press the button for a couple of seconds until it lights up, then take a puff. It’s not a fire button; the Mesh has an automatic switch that heats up when you puff. The button is purely an off/on switch. If you don’t take a puff for three minutes the Mesh will automatically power down again.

As for the actual vaping experience, I was impressed! I’ve read one review that said the vapour production and throat hit were disappointing. Well, all I can say is they must have been doing it wrong, because I get plenty of vapour out of mine. Is the throat hit the same as I get from my usual combo of a Rouleaux RX200 and Limitless RDTA loaded with 24mg liquid? Of course not. Then again you could put the Rouleaux in a sock and beat rhinos to death with it, and it dribbles like a senile dog. The Mesh is slim, light and compact, and it never leaks. At all.

My Mesh came with two flavours – Tobacco Harmony is a rich tobacco blend, and Cool Peppermint; you can probably guess what that one tastes of. Both flavours were excellent; although I never liked menthol cigarettes I really got to like the peppermint, in particular. For the average user a VEEV pod should last about a day, making it roughly equivalent to a pack of cigarettes – and, at £2.99 for a pack of two, a lot cheaper. The battery holds enough charge to get through a whole pod and part of the next one, but I tended to recharge it between pods anyway.

The point to keep in mind is that the Mesh wasn’t designed to replace your favourite mod and dripper. It’s an easy to use, but very effective, device aimed at people who just want a simple alternative to cigarettes. I think it’s ideal for that – and it’s a great choice if you want some thing compact and non-dribbly to take to the pub, as well. In short, it does exactly what a pod mod is supposed to do, and it does it very well.

Verdict

I liked the original Mesh when I tried it last year, and I like the new, improved version even more. PMI have taken a good basic concept and made it even better, producing a very well-made pod mod that’s simple, effective and great value. If you’re looking for an e-cig that just works, with no messing around with refill bottles or coil changes, the iQOS Mesh is an excellent choice.

To see our entire iQOS Mesh and VEEV collection please click here.

IQOS Mesh Logo