Heat-Not-Burn vs. Vaping
I know that we’ve already gone over the properties and functions of Heat-Not-Burn devices in our first post, but what are they? Are they e-cigarettes? Vapes? How do they compare to vaping?
Generally speaking, Heat-Not-Burn and vaping is quite similar. The processes for each involve taking a nicotine substance and heating it until a flavorful vapor is released. Unlike, traditional smoking, the nicotine substance is never burnt, only heated, which allows them to both be classified as harm reduction products. Moreover, both HnB and vaping rely on battery powered devices. While vaping and Heat-Not-Burning share similarities in the vapor-creation process, the material components differ greatly. Vaping requires liquidized nicotine compounds to be inserted into heating chamber. These vaping liquids are called e-juice, vape-juice, and e-liquid. Often vaping liquids are flavored and can sometimes be purchased in a solid wax form. Heat-Not-Burn, on the other hand, is more akin to traditional smoking in that electronic HnB devices work in collaboration with HeatSticks, which contain solid tobacco.
This is where the distinction between HnB and vaping is drawn. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies “vapes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, electronic cigarettes [/e-cigs], and e-pipes” which “use an “e-liquid” as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Since HeatSticks contain solid tobacco and do not contain vaping liquids, they must be placed in a category separate from vaping despite similarities.
HnB products are currently classified as both tobacco heated products (THP) and, under the FDA, modified risk tobacco products (MRTP), although tobacco heated products is more accurate as MRTPs include chewing tobacco and snuff. While this is confusing to both users and the industry itself, it’s a needed distinction. HnB and vaping may produce similar vapor effects (depending on the active components of either the HeatStick or vaping liquid) but their experiences are completely different. Most users report that Heat-Not-Burning is comparable to traditional smoking more so than vaping. This is a result of HeatSticks resembling traditional cigarettes in structure and design. When using a Heat-Not-Burn device, the only element which touches the user’s lips is the filter located at the end of the HeatStick. Most filters, particularly those from brand names such as IQOS and GLO, are made to replicate the texture of a traditional cigarette. This is in stark contrast to vape pens/e-cigarettes and mods, which, most often, have a metal or plastic mouthpiece.
Moreover, users report that HnB flavors are often more akin to the tobacco taste in traditional cigarettes. Generally, HnB manufacturers offer flavors which highlight the tobacco taste, with some companies even creating flavors which replicate their traditional cigarette brands, such as the IQOS Red Label which tastes like Philip Morris’ Marlboro. Mint and menthol are also more common than fruity or sweet flavors. Unfortunately this means that Heat-Not-Burn products have less of a range in flavor than vape products do.
Heat-Not-Burn products aim to offer consumers a similar experience as traditional smoking does, but that doesn’t mean it’s more or less preferable than vaping. The distinction in classification between the two types of products only emphasises that, regardless of any similarities in their functions, they are two different experiences and will appeal to different people. HnB tends to be more popular with individuals who have used or are currently using traditional cigarettes. HnB is particularly useful for those hoping to quit smoking or reduce their cigarette consumption. Some individuals choose to use HnB while still smoking or even use both HnB and vapes. Our team has noticed, however, that individuals who primarily use vape tend to not like HnB as much as people who smoke or have smoked.
The Heat-Not-Burn industry is still growing and the introduction of new devices and accessories indicates that manufacturers are willing to experiment and develop in all areas. Perhaps we will see developments that bring HnB and vaping closer together, or maybe they will simply develop into their own separate industries, connected by their status as harm reduction products. One thing is certain; as technology progresses both fields benefit, as do consumers.