As the FDA reviews HnB technology for legal sale in the United States, what will their introduction mean for vaping as a whole?
There’s a new smoke-free alternative developed by big tobacco companies like Philip Morris International. The method utilized is known as Heat not Burn (HnB), and it involves heating small sticks of tobacco until an aerosol is produced. Unlike most vaporizers, there is no e-liquid involved, but rather actual plant-material tobacco like in cigarettes. A new study from San Diego State University found that HnB tobacco products could be poised to flood the US market if approved for legal sale by the FDA. They are currently not available in America but are going through an approval process to gain the designation of Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP). It would become the first product to earn this newly created title if the FDA deems them having a clear and distinct reduction of harm over traditional cigarettes. They’re expected to announce their decision on Heat not Burn products over the next couple months. If approved, SDSU warns “that they could be a phenomenon, dwarfing even e-cigarettes.”
San Diego State University Study
The SDSU study wanted to look at how this new form of vaporizer compares with traditional e-liquid vaporizers regarding satisfaction of users and ability to displace the current tobacco market. Being an extremely new technology, even by vaping standards, there are less than 30 peer-reviewed articles published focused on the Heat not Burn technique according to the researchers. In light of this, they turned to nontraditional types of data, such as Google search queries, to track potential trends in uptake. John Ayers was the lead researcher for the study and claims that this kind of information can sometimes even be more useful than surveys, citing how search results are self-explored instead of prompted by researchers. He also references other works that have used this method of data collection to great success, such as predicting the rise of traditional e-cigarettes.
They found indications that Heat not Burn technology could make a massive impact on the tobacco and vaping industries. Japan is the country that has the most societal information on Heat not Burn technology, having been available there as early as 2014. Over the intervening three years, HnB technology has exploded in the country. According to the San Diego State University researchers, there are now between six and seven million searches for “heat-not-burn” in Japan every month, while almost no one was as of two years ago. This type of growth accounts for levels not seen with any other tobacco product ever brought to market, including traditional e-cigarettes. Given all of this, researchers believe that it is only a matter of time before we see massive growth in the HnB sector across America and the world. While their manufacturers are celebrating this news, vaping enthusiasts are concerned with who this enormous growth will actually benefit.
Implications Of Heat Not Burn Technology
A concern shared by many independent vaping businesses is that Heat not Burn products will overshadow the smoking cessation value of traditional e-cigarettes. Not only that, but many fear that since it’s a different type of vapor altogether, it may not even have the same level of safety as traditional vaping. But worst of all, it potentially gives big tobacco a considerable piece of the vaping industry, mostly through harming independent business owners. Harm reduction standards, as well as fighting tobacco companies, have always been critical factors in the development and implementation of e-cigarettes. Now that the writing’s on the wall for smoking, big tobacco is hoping to steal a sizeable chunk of the very industry that finally displaced it.
If the FDA allows HnB products in the US, it will almost undoubtedly help the tobacco industry through hurting independent vaping business. Much like with their controversial deeming rules, they are in effect giving a leg up to tobacco companies by trying to treat vastly different products as mostly the same. As stated by Dr. Ayer, there is almost no peer-reviewed research concerning HnB, so manufacturers who market them as having the same level of harm reduction as vaping are unfounded. Once again, big tobacco shows no remorse withholding relevant information, even if it puts their customer’s lives at risk. In fact, we probably shouldn’t let tobacco companies operate at all in the industry created to stop smoking. But at the very least, it would be nice if the FDA didn’t continue to hand tobacco companies significant advantages.
Would you try Heat not Burn vaporizers? Do you think it’s helping big tobacco for the FDA to allow these types of products in America? Do you think that it is fair to equate e-liquid vaping with HnB vaping? Let us know in the comments below.