Interview with Heat Not Burn UK
In one of our most recent YouTube videos we discussed various Heat-Not-Burn content creators and suppliers who we follow and interact with. One of the sites we mentioned is Heat Not Burn UK. The Heat Not Burn UK team not only runs an amazing blog, but is also a retailer for numerous devices! As a leader within the HnB community we wanted to learn more about their website, their opinions on industry, and some of their go-to favorites, so we reached out to Tony, the founder of Heat Not Burn UK for an interview!
Question: Hi Tony! Thank you for agreeing to an interview with us! To start off, could you give a brief introduction of yourself and your team?
Answer: Hi there, firstly I would like to thank you for this interview, I think it is a great idea to help spread the word on harm reduction. My name is Tony, owner of Heat Not Burn UK and in charge of our small team. I have no prior history with tobacco or nicotine products other than being a heavy smoker for 26 years! I am very passionate about heat not burn as it got me off of the regular cigarettes.
Although our team is quite small at the moment, that hasn’t stopped us from being one of the most popular heat not burn resources in Europe. As we are small it does allow us to offer a more personal touch. We answer emails within hours not days and we will always reply to an email, I feel this kind of touch is increasingly fading as the internet grows in size.
Q: When and how did Heat Not Burn UK come about?
A: Around the middle of 2015 I first heard of heat not burn. There seemed to be very little information on it on the web so I decided to set up a blog about this exciting new technology as I was very interested in the technology itself. I set up heatnotburn.co.uk primarily as a resource website covering all aspects of heat not burn. It proved to be very popular with people visiting the website from all over the world.
Q: What was it about Heat-Not-Burn that made you believe there was a future for these products?
A: The reason I believe there is a future for heat not burn is that even though other forms of harm reduction are becoming very popular (mainly e-cigarettes) they are not for everyone. For example with e-cigarettes it is impossible to replicate a true tobacco taste. Heat not burn replicates the taste of tobacco very well and that is why I think there is definitely a future for these products.
Q: Have you seen growth in the industry since you first began Heat Not Burn UK?
A: Definitely. When we formed in November 2015 we were very early to the party and as such have witnessed the growth first hand. Currently it is way more popular in Asian countries (mainly Japan and South Korea) but we are now seeing it grow in other countries too. We hope that we start seeing growth in the USA also because that could be a massive market! We feel it will continue to grow. When people ask me what I do for a living and I mention I sell heat not burn devices, not one of them has heard of it! We still have a long way to go yet!
Q: Where do you think the industry is going or should go?
A: I think that the industry is doing just fine as it is, the big players like PMI, BAT and KT&G are already well involved and are releasing new devices every year with improvements over the previous device. Also it is great to see that Chinese companies are getting involved because that too drives competition and can only be a good thing for everyone. We get approached all the time by Chinese companies asking us to review their device and we have many reviews on the website of Chinese made heat not burn devices.
Q: What is the situation like in the UK in regards to HnB and other harm reduction products?
A: With regards to heat not burn devices the market is still in its infancy. As I have said before, we still have a long way to go with getting the word out! As for other harm reduction products, the big winner so far seems to be e-cigarettes. The traditional patches, gums and inhalers are just not working for people and they only ever worked for a small percentage of people. Then along came e-cigarettes and BOOM! The party is effectively over for the pharmaceutical products. That is one of the reasons that e-cigarettes are under attack. They [anti-tobacco advocates, politicians, and others] will come for heat not burn too but at the moment it is all about e-cigarettes.
I personally think that the main reason heat not burn and e-cigarettes work so well is because they mimic the hand to mouth action of smoking perfectly and that is why I think we are onto a winner here.
Q: Is there anything that you feel that governments and opposition groups worldwide, are not taking into account when they evaluate harm reduction devices? What should they take into consideration before passing legislation?
A: Oh this one is a Pandoras Box! I have been monitoring attitudes towards heat not burn and e-cigarettes very closely over the last three to four years.
There are many things wrong with the legislation of certain harm reduction devices, just look at the European Union TPD (Tobacco Products Directive.) This came about in 2015 and placed needless restrictions on e-cigarettes. For example, TPD deemed it no longer possible to sell e-liquid containing nicotine in bottles greater than 10ml, and also that every bottle should come with a safety leaflet. Now the safety leaflet isn’t a bad idea but with every single bottle? Why not one per order? All this does is creates needless waste and inconvenience for the end user. Ostensibly this was a safety thing in case you accidentally spilt e-liquid all over yourself, but as the majority of e-liquid is around 2.5% nicotine content, nothing would happen to you if you did. They also limited the tank size to 2ml maximum capacity, again this was utterly pointless and only causes inconvenience to the end user. Again they did this as they are worried about spillages but surely with a smaller tank you increase the likelihood of spillages if you have to refill the tank more often?? The conspiracy theorist in me says that these bizarre rules were brought in for a reason, and that being to make e-cigarettes less appealing.
As for heat not burn it has somewhat flown under the radar at the moment which, mercifully, is a good thing but they will come for heat not burn soon, you can be 100% sure of that.
We are not allowed to market our heat not burn devices as a quitting device because they are not classed as medicinal products. On our HEETS we have to warn people that they contain nicotine in a style similar to the warnings on actual cigarettes. Although HEETS contain tobacco, having the same style of warning on them makes people think that they are as damaging to one’s health as cigarettes, but they are not.
Don’t forget that the big pharma companies patches and gums also contain nicotine, but they don’t have to have cigarette style warnings because the nicotine in patches and gums is made from unicorn tears and as such isn’t as nasty as it is in e-liquid and HEETS. (Just for the record and to avoid any confusion I am joking about the unicorn tears!)
So to answer the original question they should take a more “hands off” approach before passing any legislation at all because when they do try and legislate they seem to make a complete mess of things. The market should be allowed to grow of its own accord with as little government meddling as possible. If it’s not a good thing, the market will dictate that.
Q: How did you feel when you heard that the FDA approved IQOS for sale in the US? Could this be a defining moment for the HnB industry?
A: It could be, but as far as I am aware, they are only going to be available in a few States to start off with. This seems a bit bizarre to me but hopefully they will roll out statewide very soon because I was very happy indeed when I heard that the FDA had approved them for sale, mainly because it will increase awareness of the product. As I see it, the more different options a smoker has to quit smoking the better.
Q: What is your attitude towards big tobacco? (PMI, BAT, etc.)
A: I’m absolutely fine with big tobacco, nobody forces people to smoke, it is a personal choice. We currently only sell PMI products from big tobacco. PMI are putting a lot of effort into heat not burn with their IQOS and why not? They should be praised for this but of course they are still evil in many people’s eyes. I think that is wrong and unfair. Look at the harm excessive alcohol consumption does yet we don’t see anywhere near the amount of attacks on drinks manufacturers that we see on tobacco companies.
Q: Why did you choose HnB over vaping?
A: Basically I just couldn’t get on with vaping, I tried all kinds of weird and wonderful flavours but none of them could replicate that tobacco taste which I used to love with smoking. Heat not burn was totally different because I got the same tobacco taste with most of the nasty chemicals removed.
Q: What would you say to anyone curious about HnB?
A: I would say give it a try! It’s a new and innovative technology with some very high quality devices out there that all add to the experience. Smoking is so 1970’s, come and embrace the future.
Q: What advice or recommendations would you give to existing HnB users?
A: That’s a good question! What I would say is, stick with it as it can be as pleasurable as actual smoking if you give it a fair chance. Also without many of the risks because it is the actual combustion that creates most of the harmful chemicals. Because heat not burn only heats the tobacco into a vapour there is no combustion at all.
Also keep your device clean, a clean device is a happy device. That is one thing that you never have to think about with smoking but you do need to make a bit of an effort with heat not burn.
Q: What is your all-time favorite HnB device?
A: That one has to be the IQOS 3 of course! I’m not just saying that because we sell them too. I prefer the holder with a PCC (personal charging case) over the all-in-one devices like the BAT Glo or the KT&G Lil and the IQOS 3 is exceptional. The holder is small and light, not as light as a cigarette but then again considering the technology inside the device that would be impossible. But it’s extremely well made and with the redesigned case it is also very portable. It is very easy to clean too.
Q: Are there any knock-offs or inexpensive devices do you think deserve more appreciation?
A: As I have mentioned earlier in this interview, we do get sent lots of devices from China to review and some of them are very good. They should in my opinion deserve more appreciation but due to costs of landing many of them will not see the light of day outside of China which I feel is a shame.
Q: What is your favorite HeatStick flavor, from any brand?
A: That one is easy, it is Sienna HEETS from PMI, they are perfect! Nice strong authentic tobacco blend.
Q: You’re a retailer for several HnB products, do you have exclusive deals with the manufacturers? How do you choose which HnB products to sell?
A: We are under no obligation or tied down to any particular manufacturer, we have partnered up with a company here in the UK that is an official reseller of IQOS products and we are very happy to sell their products as we believe in them. I couldn’t sell something I didn’t personally believe in.
We also sell a few pod mod systems that are made by companies such as Aspire who also make excellent products. I am especially happy for Aspire as they are a Chinese company that do a very good job of dispelling the lingering myth that Chinese products are inferior. The pod mod, as you will already know, is more of a vaping product but we are into harm reduction so make no apologies for selling other harm reduction products other than heat not burn. Basically if the product is very good and we can get it in at the right price, we will sell it!
Q: What do you think sets heatnotburn.co.uk aside from other retailers?
A: We are lucky that we are a small independent company because that means we are able to offer our customers the personal touch. I did touch on it earlier in the Q&A but I will say it again, we reply to emails in hours and not days. People are surprised at this sometimes because they are so used to waiting ages for a reply, if at all. It shouldn’t have to be that way.
Q: Do you have any promotions or discount codes that you want to share with the people reading this article?
A: We do currently have our excellent ongoing promotion of the IQOS device along with three packets of HEETS in a flavour of the customers choice for either £79, £89 or £99 depending on which unit they purchase. We are lucky to be able to offer the 2.4 Plus, 3 and 3 MULTI which is great because it gives the customer more choice. The 2.4 Plus and 3 are two-piece units with a separate holder and the 3 MULTI is an all-in-one device.
We also send out discount codes every now-and-then to our regulars to help them save money.
Q: Aside from the store, Heat Not Burn UK has an awesome blog! What do you want people reading this interview to know about the content they can find on heatnotburn.co.uk?
A: Thanks! We do take a lot of pride in the blog side of our website. The content available is very wide ranging and we would love to invite readers to come and take a look. We go into great detail about heat not burn through the history of it (there was some proper dodgy devices in the old days!), through to how it works, the main players, the advantages, the attacks and everything else in between. We now have over 100 blog posts and they are all high quality and well written.
Q: Lastly, do you have any future goals or plans for Heat Not Burn UK that you’d like to share with the people reading this article?
A: To all the people reading this article what we can say is that Heat Not Burn UK plans to expand in the future as heat not burn becomes more popular. Excellent sites like your own (Heat180.com) are also doing a fantastic job in helping to get the word out there. I don’t even think we have scratched the surface in Europe and North America so I can see both our websites becoming more and more popular as time goes by.
There are some very exciting times ahead!