Introduction to Heat-Not-Burn

What Is Heat-Not-Burn?

Smoking has changed so much in the past decade. Do you ever wonder what the future of smoking will be? A number of tobacco companies believe that the future of smoking is not smoke at all! That’s where Heat-Not Burn comes in.

Heat-Not-Burn (HnB) is an alternative to traditional tobacco smoking. Heat-Not-Burn devices are electronic heated tobacco systems that generate a flavorful vapor by heating tobacco instead of burning it. The devices usually heat the tobacco no higher than 350°C, compared to traditional cigarettes which burn, on average, around 600°C. When tobacco is burnt it releases harmful chemicals aerially that can cause negative health effects. Manufacturers claim that Heat-Not-Burn devices are a healthier option as they reduce user exposure to such chemicals since they produce vapor rather than smoke. Nevertheless, Heat-Not-Burning provides a similar ‘smoking’ experience.

Heat-Not-Burn Product Line

Heat-Not-Burn products are part of the harm reduction movement. They are a great option for individuals who enjoy smoking but want to reduce the health risks. Many users report that after a two week period of time they see significant physical changes; such as reduced chest pain, fewer and shorter cravings, less tired feeling, no more lingering smoke smell, etc. It is also suitable for those who want to, or have to, quit smoking, as HnB can be used to gradually achieve such.


Heat-Not-Burn was first conceptualized in the late 1980s when the R. J. Tobacco Company launched the world’s first smokeless cigarette under the Premier brand. The product, which did not rely on an electronic system, instead utilizing a charcoal plug, reportedly tasted awful and lasted less than a year on the market. The company tried again in the mid-1990s to launch a successful product, the Eclipse, with minimal success. In 1998, Philip Morris International (PMI), the manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, launched Accord heating devices, designed to reduce the concentration of smoke that users would be exposed to. The product was never marketed for health benefits as at the time, there was not enough data to determine potential long-term effects and therefore the product could not be endorsed by federal nor private medical review panels. Accord never saw large-scale success and in 2006 it was discontinued. The following year PMI test-marketed HeatBar, an electronic cigarette nearly identical to Accord with the central difference being that HeatBar marketing focused on the product’s guaranteed ability to reduce second-hand smoke. HeatBar also failed to gain popularity within the smoking community and was never moved to full production. In 2003, PMI reported investing nearly $70 million USD (amount adjusted to accommodate inflation) into electronic smoking device research. That research, in combination with feedback collected from the several failed product lines, was used to modify and improve PMI electronic devices and eventually fueled the creation of IQOS, the company’s most successful HnB device and the leader in the Heat-Not-Burn industry.

The Future of Heat-Not-Burn

Following IQOS’ debut and favorable reception, more electronic Heat-Not-Burn devices were introduced including GLO, by British American Tobacco (BAT), Ploom TECH by Japan Tobacco, PAX by Pax Labs, and numerous others. While devices can have varying designs, most have shared features. The two components necessary for a Heat-Not-Burn device are HeatSticks (the element which holds the tobacco) and a heating chamber (the electronic part of the device that heats the tobacco). Each company has their own take on how these aspects are incorporated into their HnB devices. (For more information on specific brands, please see our Reviews page.) Each company also sets their own market rates. The devices are available in most countries worldwide but tend to have higher usage rates in Japan, Korea, China, and Russia.

Generally, Heat-Not-Burn devices have performed well on the global market. IQOS, still the most successful brand judging by annual HnB revenue. IQOS has witnessed growing usage rates in the APAC region for 2 consecutive years. As of July, 2018 PMI reported that 5.6 million smokers worldwide had begun choosing IQOS devices over traditional cigarettes. The brand has continually outperformed analysts’ predictions. In 2018, Business Wire released a report detailing the expected growth of the Heat-Not-Burn industry. Their report predicts that Heat-Not-Burn products will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for 24% between the years 2018-2022. Smaller HnB brands have found success, but the industry is still largely dominated by big tobacco companies like PMI with IQOS and BAT with GLO.

Heat-Not-Burn products are growing in popularity in some markets, however many companies struggle with expanding due to advertisement restrictions. Despite manufacturer claims that Heat-Not-Burn is a safer alternative to traditional smoking there is very little long-term research to support such. Numerous countries ban marking of Heat-Not-Burn products outright in an effort to minimize the amount of tobacco consumers. Nevertheless, Heat-Not-Burn manufacturers and enthusiasts are introducing new initiatives to spread awareness about HnB as more products are introduced to the market and more health effect studies, both funded and independent, are taking place.

The Heat-Not-Burn industry is rapidly changing and has the potential for growth moving forward. What an exciting time to be involved!

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