Marlboro IQOS… What is it?
There has been a lot of talk recently about the Marlboro IQOS – which is sort of a hybrid device that crosses electronic cigarette technology with tobacco. It’s made by Philip Morris, the same company that makes Marlboro Cigarettes, and looks pretty interesting as a cigarette substitute.
It’s technically a reduced-risk tobacco product. In fact, Philip Morris International recently submitted a ‘modified-risk tobacco product’ application to the FDA… which is actually a designation that no product thus-far has been granted… so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.
But anyway – here’s what you need to know about the device and how it operates.
So, there are basically three parts to this device. There is the portable charging case (which contains a battery), there is the smoking unit itself, which is what warms the cigarette up. This part gets stored within the portable charging case when you want to charge it up.
And, there are actual tobacco-filled inserts, or ‘mini cigs’ that you place in the smoking unit.
The basics behind the device is that it heats up the tobacco instead of lighting it on fire, which is supposed to reduce the number of harmful fumes that the smoker is subjected to. The tiny cigarettes come in packs of 20, and enable the device to work like a portable dry herb vapourizer… except that, in this case, you must buy the little inserts to make it work right.
The device is also said to use vegetable glycerin, in addition to the tobacco, to help create more ‘smoke’, or fumes – whichever you want to call it.
And, that’s about it. That summarizes how the device works.
What’s It Like?
People who have used the device say that it’s certainly a cross somewhere between an E-cig, a cigarette, and a dry-herb vapourizer.
As with a dry herb vapourizer, you need to wait for it to heat up before you can use it. It delivers a very cigarette-like hit, and the nicotine content is said to be much more comparable to that of a cigarette. It doesn’t visually seem to give off much in the way of extra ‘smoke’ or fumes, like cigarettes do, though. Since the entire roll of tobacco is enclosed in the smoking unit, and is ‘heated’, not burned, it is a much different type of experience.
It is said to be a bit difficult to get used to at first, and takes some practice. It’s certainly not a ‘light and go’ product like cigarettes, which perhaps makes it a bit more similar to electronic cigarettes and dry-herb vapourizers.
You also need to keep it cleaned to keep it functioning properly, which adds some maintenance time to the equation. But, on the flipside, reviews that we’ve checked out say that maintenance time is pretty minimal.
But, people who use the device also say that it doesn’t really smell like a cigarette. They say that the gross, burnt smell of tobacco and ash is gone – and that the fumes you inhale are much more like the gentle vapour that you would get from an E-cig.
They also say that each cigarette lasts about 14 drags, making it very similar in use-time to actual cigarettes. Plus, it is said to taste a lot better than cigarettes. It delivers a cleaner, more flavourful hit of tobacco without all of the smoke and ash.
Users have also said that their lungs felt much better after switching to this product, and that they see it as being a tool that could certainly help smokers to wean themselves off of cigarettes.
The biggest downside, in addition to any possible health risks, could be the cost. It’s priced a bit on the high side (about $65 for the unit and about $10 for a pack of cigarettes), so the initial and subsequent costs are a bit high. But, you are certainly getting a reduced-risk experience for your money – which, in our opinion, is awesome.
We love to see healthier cigarette alternatives, and it looks like Philip Morris might have a good concept on their hands with the IQOS!
Learn More About Heat Not Burn Technology
Heat not burn technology has actually been around for quite a long time. First introduced in 1988 they were an unmitigated failure. Of course at the time there wasn’t a place in the market for a cigarette equivalent, the world has changed quite a lot in the last 30 years though and with the current influx of cigarette equivalents tobacco companies feel that there is a place in the market for heat not burn technology again. The important question is though, what is it?
Heat not burn technology utilises a system that doesn’t burn the tobacco like in a traditional cigarette. The tobacco is heated at a lower temperature, 350 degrees instead of 600, than in a cigarette this creates a vapour instead of smoke. This also means there is no ash to clear up either. The only real fact that is currently accepted universally is that the vapour it creates contains nicotine, whether it contains other more harmful chemicals and if it does how much of those chemicals it creates is not currently something that is available from an independent study.
Tobacco companies have financed their own studies into heat not burn technology and they have all made the claim that the technology is far less harmful than cigarettes are. While these studies could be completely legitimate, it is difficult to accept it at face value when they were funded by someone with a vested interest in the result.
The vapour that the heat not burn products create is similar to the vapour that a vape creates but due to the use of tobacco it gives the throat hit that most vapes lack. That means that if the health claims are indeed true then it could give a more true smoking experience without the associated health risks from cigarettes.
What’s Inside a Heet?
Heets are the miniature cigarettes that are used in the IQOS system. They are essentially cigarettes that have been shrunk down to fit into the IQOS device, but with a few minor differences. The tobacco itself has a number of additives put into it when it is created, it is also created from a number of different blends.
The different chemicals that are added to a heet in order to create it is an incredibly long list. The flavourings for a Heet is a list of well over one hundred different additives, although the vast majority of them equate to less than 0.001% of the total contents of a Heet.
So what are the important components of a Heet apart from tobacco? Well, the Heet is divided up into a number of different sections. First there is the heatstick paper and wrapper.
The main ingredients in these are cellulose at 12.5% (of the total Heet) and calcium carbonate at 2%. Next up there are adhesives which has a main ingredient of ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer which takes up 1.6%.
The next section is tipping paper and tipping paper inks which has cellulose as a main ingredient at 1.6%. Next is filtration material which has the main ingredients of polylactic resin at 29.1% and cellulose acetate at 12.5%. It also contains triacetin at 2.1%. The final section is ingredients added to the tobacco, this is an extensive list but the main ingredients are glycerol at 19% and sugar: sucrose at 5.5%. It is worth noting that cellulose is another ingredient here at 1.9%.
Phillip Morris are very open about the ingredients contained in a Heet, but the repeated inclusion of cellulose in different sections means that it has a total percentage of over 16% which is more than it seems at first due to it being split up across the different sections. While this is not dishonest, it could be seen as misleading especially as inhalation of cellulose can be dangerous for the lungs.
Less Harmful But Probably More Addictive
The current available studies claim that using heat not burn technology represents 10% of the risk that smoking traditional cigarettes does. While this can be disputed until an independent study has been carried out, as well as having the time to observe the long term effects of using heat not burn technology, at this moment in time it is all we have available to us. So taking that into account, why could it potentially be more addictive?
Because the nicotine content of a Heet is less than a traditional cigarette it will require more in order to satisfy the craving that a smoker has. The isn’t inherently a problem but the nicotine content of a Heet is more than half that of a regular cigarette. There is also not the option to use just half of a Heet, something that vaping doesn’t suffer from due to the ability to use just as much or little as you like at a time. This means that if people want to satisfy their craving they will have to use more than one Heet at a time which is increasing their nicotine intake.
This leads to the person taking in twice as much of everything else that is contained within a Heet and so they are also doing more damage to themselves, although still less than if they had smoked a traditional cigarette. The increase in nicotine intake can then lead to the user requiring more and more Heets in order to satisfy their craving and over time this will lead to a more severe addiction. This is something that can lead to the IQOS offering less of a benefit than first thought if users regularly require more than one Heet at a time.
Using an IQOS
The IQOS offers a sensation that is much closer to smoking than vaping does. When you first take in the vapour that the IQOS gives off you get that familiar throat hit that you get from smoking, something that vaping doesn’t offer to such a high level. While it doesn’t quite offer the same level as a cigarette does, it still does enough to ensure that people who are trying to give up traditional cigarettes aren’t too far removed from the experience that they are used to.
The IQOS doesn’t such a pungent aroma that traditional cigarettes do. It still gives off the recognisable smell of tobacco, but it isn’t as strong and doesn’t linger like a cigarette does. This could be due to the tobacco not being burned and a vapour being created instead of smoke. This also leads to the taste from the IQOS not being as harsh when you use it. As smell and taste are generally thought to be linked the heating of the tobacco produces a more pleasant smell as well as a more pleasant taste that won’t linger on your clothes or breath.
The IQOS has a very similar effect to smoking a regular cigarette, but without a lot of the drawbacks. The first effect is the release from nicotine craving. It gives you the nicotine that you require just like a cigarette does in almost the same amount of time. The second effect is that it doesn’t lay heavy on the chest like a cigarette does. There is a lot less chesty coughing after using an IQOS than a cigarette, whether this is maintained long term is hard to tell, but the IQOS certainly feels healthier.
As covered earlier a single Heet doesn’t hold the same amount of nicotine as a traditional cigarette does. This means that in terms of getting your nicotine fix it doesn’t offer the same levels of satisfaction and can sometimes require more than one Heet at a time to get to a point where you feel okay. It’s not unsatisfying, but at the same time it isn’t perfect either. There is also the throat hit, while the throat hit is superior to that offered by a vape, it’s still not on the same level as a cigarette. The IQOS isn’t perfect in terms of satisfaction, but it’s also a perfectly adequate alternative and as the technology improves so will the satisfaction levels.
4. Health Effects
At this moment in time there are both no independent studies or long term studies that show the health effects of heat not burn technology on its users. This isn’t to say that it is definitely as bad as cigarettes, but it also doesn’t offer enough information as to whether they are any healthier. The tobacco industry funded studies claim that heat not burn is 90 – 95% safer than cigarettes, but that cannot be taken at face value due to the biased nature of a funded study. While studies are currently inconclusive, the IQOS certainly feels healthier when using it, but that doesn’t prove that it is.
5. Signs of Tar
The IQOS has so far shown that in clinical trials it doesn’t give off as many toxins as usual cigarettes do. This means that the tar content of a Heet may well be as high as a traditional cigarette, but the way that it is heated and not burned means that it doesn’t release as much of it into the vapour that the IQOS creates. This shows when after using an IQOS there is far less staining of fingers and teeth than from smoking a cigarette. This isn’t proof that the tar content is lower when using the IQOS, but it at the very least shows that the visible signs of the tar has been significantly reduced.
As covered earlier the nicotine content released from smoking a Heet is lower than from a traditional cigarette. This doesn’t mean that it is less addictive though. A lower nicotine rate per Heet means that people may need more than one Heet at a time. This could well be done on purpose by Phillip Morris in order to increase sales, or it could be a byproduct of the smaller sized Heets when compared to a traditional cigarette. While the IQOS does purport to be safer that doesn’t mean that it isn’t addictive, the presence of nicotine in the Heets ensures that the product is addictive.
How Are the IQOS Regulated In the UK?
Phillip Morris are not allowed to advertise the IQOS in the UK due to the ban on advertising tobacco products. Currently the IQOS has to conform to all of the existing tobacco regulations. This is because it uses tobacco products to work, unlike a vape which doesn’t always use tobacco but still comes under TPD in article 20. What isn’t known is if Phillip Morris will use clinical studies to either allow the IQOS to sidestep TPD regulations, or to create a new subsection similar to article 20 for vaping.
Who Would Benefit From Using the IQOS the Most?
The main people who would benefit the most from using the IQOS is definitely smokers who are looking to quit, but don’t want to make the switch to vaping. Due to the use of Heets, which are essentially miniature cigarettes it gives the closest experience to smoking of all lower risk smoking alternatives. So if you’re worried that you will miss out on that throat hit from smoking as well as the whole ritual of smoking a cigarette then the IQOS is probably the best solution for you.
Should Tobacco Users use IQOS?
This completely depends on your desires. If you want to give up tobacco completely then vaping is probably a better choice for you as it still provides the nicotine hit without the tobacco. However, if you want to reduce your health risks without giving up on tobacco then the IQOS is the device for you. It offers the throat hit, albeit a less intense version, and the nicotine rush that you crave.
Should Vapers Consider Trying IQOS?
In general he answer to this question would be no. Taking a backwards step back towards tobacco would not be a good choice to make after finally managing to kick the habit. It’s not a cut and dry choice though, if vaping is offering an experience that you aren’t enjoying then the IQOS may well be the device for you. Offering more of the smoking experience it will allow you to transition away from cigarettes far more easily if you are finding the vaping experience lacklustre.
Is IQOS a Bridge Between Smoking to Vaping?
Following on from the previous point, transitioning from cigarettes to vaping could well be easier with a bridge product between the two extremes. The IQOS offers a mix of the smoking and vaping experiences and could make it easier for people to give up cigarettes. The superior throat hit added to the vape like experience from the IQOS gives enough of a smoking experience to ensure that people who are first making the change don’t feel like it is all too alien to them. Current research suggests that vaping is safer than the IQOS, but if it can be used to get more people moving over to vaping in the long term then it can only be classed as a good thing.
Pros and Cons of a Typical IQOS Device
A typical IQOS device has a number of different pros and cons. In the pro column the IQOS offers a closer to smoking experience when compared to vaping. This means that it will be a lot easier to make the jump away from cigarettes. It also has the ability to charge on the go with the pocket charger, which means that the battery can end up lasting you all day, unless you chain smoke. In the cons is the size of the whole package.
The IQOS itself is of a similar size to a vape, but the pocket charger takes up a significant amount of more room. There are also only the three different flavours available at the moment, which is a lot less than the choices on offer when it comes to e-liquids.
Other Heat Not Burn Products
There are a number of other heat not burn products available in the UK. One of the most popular is the Q7S Dry Herb Vaporizer.
It does a similar job to the IQOS but with a more simplistic design and for a cheaper price. A similar vaporizer is the Airistech VIVA Dry Herb Vaporizer. It comes in at a cheaper price than the Q7S, but has a similar number of features.
Both devices allow for USB charging and are for use with dry herbs. The difference between these devices and the IQOS is that for most other heat not burn products on the market you have to grind your own tobacco in order to use them, rather than the simple loading of a Heet for the IQOS. Another device more in line with the pricing of the IQOS is the PAX 2 portable vaporizer which like all of the other vaporizers works by grinding the tobacco and loading it into the heating area.
Overall there are a number of other options on the market, but none have the polish that the IQOS has, mainly due to the investment from Phillip Morris.
Another dry herb vaporizer we have a detailed review about is the Cosmos Dry Her Vaporizer by ePuffer. See our video review here.
What do you think? Have you tried it, if so we’d like to know what you think. 🙂