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What is a Heat Not Burn Cigarette and can it help You quit smoking?

The Next Big Trend in vaping is actually a very old idea: cigarettes that heat tobacco to produce an aerosol that can be inhaled, but never reach the point of combustion, therefore avoiding that sketchy part of smoking where you light something on fire and suck the smoke into your lungs.

How is that any different than the e-cigarettes we’ve come to know and love/hate? Because heat-not-burn cigs contain tobacco, not just flavored liquid nicotine, so it’s much closer to the experience of smoking a regular cigarette, just without the smoke, smokey smell, and (hopefully) all the carcinogens. Not bad if your New Year’s resolution is to kick smoking. Although as with all too-good things, there are caveats.

iQOS concept images from Philip Morris

Right now, Philip Morris, of Marlboro fame, has introduced Marlboro Heets – available in four different flavours.

The HeatStick, which looks like a regular cigarette, is heated inside a battery-powered, pen-like device called iQOS (pronounced “eye-coze”). The sticks are heated to a point just below combustion—so up to 660 degrees F—which produces a nicotine-infused vapor that you inhale through a mouthpiece. The holder can heat about 20 sticks per charge.

Each cig lasts about five minutes, then you let it cool down and throw it out. It emits just whimper of smoke, and also doesn’t cause that telltale smoker smell.

Indeed, big tobacco firms—which realized as early as the freaking 50s that cigarettes were killing us—have been developing technology to strip out the combustion part of the equation for decades. Now, the cigarette makers are hoping that vaping’s explosive popularity and an increasingly anti-smoking public opinion is a sign the time is ripe to give it another go.

As of now, barring further research, the general consensus about heat-not-burn “cigarettes” is similar to vaping products: It stands to reason that notburning the tobacco is less bad for you than burning it, but it’s maybe probably still bad for you. How much less – we’re not sure. Is there some unknown consequence that’s just as dangerous as smoking butts? Maybe. Is there a public health impact associated with products that encourage the habit at all, and potentially get a new generation hooked on nicotine? Sure. On the other hand, if a new product can get people to quit that otherwise would stay addicted, that’s hard to argue with.

5 thoughts on “What is a Heat Not Burn Cigarette and can it help You quit smoking?

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