Big tobacco is getting the message now. They see their sales of regular cigarettes dropping by the month, maybe daily, as electronic cigarettes creep into their market. Money always speaks loudly. They are not slow these tobacco companies. They have been around the block for a few decades and tobacco giants know that the public is not on their side. Big tobacco is about as popular as a city bylaw officer only they get a licking for things much worse than parking tickets: cancer, heart and lung disease, stroke, and more. How do they face market and image challenges? They join the vapor wave.

E Cigs by Big Tobacco

In fact, tobacco companies have been the driving force behind lots of e cig companies like Blu Cig, V2, and Green Smoke. Whether you find that ironic or appropriate, tobacco businesses have possibly been the biggest financial backers of e cig companies with a few independent firms finding investment money from other sources.

Altria, makers of Marlboro Cigarettes, are responsible for the MarkTen e cig which has been underwhelming customers for about a year. It is not just the MarkTen that fails to impress: a lot of e cigs don’t cut the muster with smokers. They satisfy some aspects of smoking: holding a little pen-shaped thing between two fingers and sticking it in their mouths, puffing, seeing the end light up, or getting a nicotine fix.

What they do not get is the flavor — and often the warmth — of cigarettes is missing. The MarkTen is particularly unimpressive by all reports. Even though mini e cigs are more satisfying from the structural perspective than a large device (which could be mistaken for a recorder if not for the plumes they produce), being about the right weight and size to mimic cigarettes, e-liquid does not supply the end result they are looking for on many levels; at least not with smokers who are still reluctant to change over. This is why many smokers choose vaporizers over e cigs.

Heatstick Review: Philip Morris’ Answer to Lack Luster E Cigs

This is the audience that, while willing to try something healthier, is unwilling to give up the true flavor and warmth of tobacco. After years of becoming addicted to nicotine and getting used to the smell of cigs, it’s no easy thing just to give up. They don’t want a tobacco-like flavor; only the real thing will do. Vaporizers, which heat tobacco and other herbs without burning them, are bigger than e cigs but they taste right.

A Heatstick by Philip Morris (known officially as the IQOS) will be released in 2014 to compete with personal vaporizers like the Firefly, Davinci Ascent, and PAX by Ploom. This handheld portable device will allow Big Tobacco to compete in a slightly different market from that of e cigs; one that has received less mainstream press coverage and is little understood by the public.

What is a Heatstick?

Using a battery-operated heating chamber, the Heatstick will achieve a temperature of no more than 660F or 350C to release vapor from herbs. It will not set these herbs alight, combustion being one of the biggest health concerns of cigarettes. Consumers inhale burnt particles of tobacco when they smoke, which is poisonous, disgusting, and wasteful.

By burning a cigarette, the consumer is releasing multiple toxins into the environment for second hand smokers to inhale and for the air in general to become laden with poisons. They are also wasting their money, burning it literally. Vaporization is smoother and the odor is often pleasant.

A Heatstick will not make “smoking” completely safe. There are still risks, especially those connected to products that are treated with pesticides and to the consumption of nicotine. There is still no certainty that the devices that convey vapor to the lungs are safe either.

Huge Investment

Big Tobacco has made a considerable investment. Philip Morris knows they have to keep up with this growing market. Their personal, rechargeable black vaporizer won’t be cheap for the consumer either. Pen-style devices cost around $80. Slightly larger competitors cost between $150 and $250.

Yet, consumers will be able to save money if the device is well made precisely because their money is not going up in smoke. They are likely to be healthier too, and that is critical to the image Philip Morris wants to present. Patches, pills, and hypnosis can’t help everyone. Vaporizers won’t stop every smoker from lighting up either. Their goal at Philip Morris, however, is to stay in step with a public that demands a healthier option to cigarettes.