When it comes to newer alternative nicotine delivery systems, e-cigarettes are the most widely known choice, and in recent years, another next-generation innovation, called non-tobacco heated sticks, has attracted more and more attention.
Non-tobacco heated sticks have become so hot that it attracts some big tobacco companies to invest in this market. For example, it is reported that the tobacco giant PMI (Philip Morris International) will launch zero tobacco heated sticks under its brand.
Similar to e-cigarettes, non-tobacco heated sticks require an electronic handheld device when used. Because of this, they are easily confused with e-cigarettes.
Then, what are the similarities and differences between e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks? Will non-tobacco heated sticks become new challengers to e-cigarettes?
In this article, we will compare e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks in terms of formula, flavor, working science, emission, user experience, etc., and see which one is more suitable for you when you plan to transform.
Similar formulas, different forms
E-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks are similar in formula. E-cigarettes are typically made of nicotine, water, propylene glycol, ethylene glycol and polyethylene glycol, and flavorings.
Likewise, the ingredients of non-tobacco heated sticks usually include nicotine, natural herbs, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and edible essence.
Both e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks have a variety of flavors, which can be minty, candy, floral, fruity, and nutty, making them more flavorful and pleasant than traditional cigarettes.
While the formulas of e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks are similar, they appear in different forms.
E-cigarettes formula appears in liquid form, and the liquid used in e-cigarettes is known as e-liquid, e-juice, or vape juice. In contrast, non-tobacco heated sticks, just as the name suggests, are specially designed paper roll sticks similar to regular cigarettes but smaller in size.
Since the formula of non-tobacco heated sticks is similar to that of e-cigarettes but is not in liquid form, non-tobacco heated sticks are sometimes considered as “dry vape.”
Similar heating devices, different working methods
As mentioned above, both e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks are heated by an electronic handheld device. Although the heating devices of the two product categories are visually similar, they contain different components and work in different ways.
The components of an e-cigarette device usually include such elements as a battery(the power source), a heating coil, a cartridge, pod, or tank to contain the e-liquid, an atomizer (heating element) that turns the e-liquid into a vapor, and a mouthpiece.
On the other hand, the common components of a non-tobacco heated sticks device contain a charger, a holder, and heat sticks. The holder consists of a heating blade, which pierces the end of a stick and heats it up from the inside out to produce an inhalable aerosol. Also, there are all-in-one heating devices that do not contain individual holders.
Actually, the heating technology of non-tobacco heated sticks is called heat-not-burn technology, which was first used to heat tobacco products. Therefore, non-tobacco heated sticks are also known as heated tobacco alternatives.
What are their nicotine sources and contents?
Neither e-cigarettes nor non-tobacco heated sticks use real tobacco, but they may or may not contain nicotine.
Nicotine in e-cigarettes is usually naturally extracted from tobacco. On the contrary, non-tobacco heated sticks often use synthetic nicotine made in the laboratory.
However, in recent years, some brands of e-cigarettes have also begun to use synthetic nicotine.
As for the nicotine content, traditional cigarettes contain 1.1 mg-1.8 mg per cigarette or 22 mg-36 mg per pack on average, according to the statistics.
By contrast, e-cigarettes can provide a wider range of nicotine levels, ranging from 3 mg/ml to 36 mg/ml, depending on the brand or style. Some modern e-cigarettes may contain very high nicotine content.
E-cigarette JUUL, one of the most popular brands in the United States, for example, contains 0.7 ml or 59 mg/ml per pod, which is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes or 200 cigarettes.
Non-tobacco heated sticks, instead, usually contain nicotine comparable to regular cigarettes.
So, if you choose to switch from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, you need to manage your nicotine intake, and it is best to choose e-cigarettes with a nicotine content similar to that of conventional cigarettes to prevent overdose.
But if you choose non-tobacco heated sticks, you don’t need to worry about this problem because non-tobacco heated sticks are usually similar to conventional cigarettes in nicotine content, so they can help you resist nicotine impulses and won’t make you overdose easily.
E-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks: which is closer to smoking?
Studies have shown that besides nicotine craving and other withdrawal symptoms, smoking habits or routines are also the key factors that make quitting smoking challenging. So, providing tobacco substitutes with a feeling or sensory experience similar to smoking can make the transition more natural or smooth.
In this respect, non-tobacco heated sticks should be a better choice than e-cigarettes. The reason is that non-tobacco heated sticks retain many characteristics of conventional cigarettes. Its cigarette-like appearance, for example, gives users a familiar feeling.
Besides, non-tobacco heated sticks replicate the smoking rituals, such as hand-to-mouth movements and inhalation and exhalation. Visible aerosols also remind people of the familiar cigarette smoke.
In short, non-tobacco heated sticks provide satisfaction and a feeling close to smoking so that users can get used to it more easily.
Conversely, e-cigarettes don’t come close to the feeling of smoking. For example, you can not inhale directly through a paper-roll stick that looks like a regular cigarette but through a plastic or metal mouthpiece at the top of the heating device. As a result, some users may find it hard for them to get on with vaping.
Simply put, non-tobacco heated sticks can provide a sensory experience or feel closer to smoking than e-cigarettes.
Are e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks less harmful alternatives to smoking?
Traditional cigarettes are lit up with an open flame and burned to an extremely high temperature of about 900°C, producing nicotine-filled cigarette smoke and its by-products, such as carbon monoxide, tar, and ash.
Tobacco burning is said to produce thousands of chemicals, including many toxic compounds, some of which are even carcinogenic components such as formaldehyde, arsenic, acrolein, aldehyde, and benzene.
Exposure to tobacco smoke will increase the risk of developing such diseases as lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases.
E-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks, however, do not involve fire and combustion. Instead, they are heated up by battery-powered handheld devices to a low temperature below the combustion level required to generate vapor or aerosol for inhalation by users.
Since e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks do not burn when heated, they significantly reduce the toxins related to cigarette smoke. Therefore, they are considered less risky alternatives to combusted cigarettes.
What are the popular brands of non-tobacco heated sticks?
Non-tobacco heated sticks have gained a foothold in the market, though they are still a small field compared with the mainstream tobacco substitute e-cigarettes.
Currently, there have been some attempts at non-tobacco heated sticks in the markets. Some popular brands include Genmist, NEAFS, CIGOO, Unicco, Ccobato, etc.
Among them, Neafs is the pioneer brand in this field because it is the first manufacturer to introduce non-tobacco heated sticks.
Neafs heated sticks do not use real tobacco but take a special tea mixture as its basic material and make it taste close to tobacco so that it is easy for smokers to get used to it.
Besides tea-base, Neafs heated sticks add nicotine, mint, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and a variety of flavors, including menthol, strawberry, blueberry, mojito, and coffee.
Despite its rich flavor, all Neafs heated sticks are based on the taste of tobacco. Moreover, as they don’t contain real tobacco, they do not have a pungent smell of tobacco, providing a fresher tobacco experience.
All in all, Neafs heated sticks come close to the taste, satisfaction, and feeling of conventional cigarettes and, at the same time, avoid tobacco, flame, odor, and smoke, making them an ideal substitute for combusted tobacco.
Both e-cigarettes and non-tobacco heated sticks can keep you away from toxins and carcinogens related to burning tobacco. But which one will suit you better? This depends on your preference. If you don’t care much about smoking rituals or feelings, e-cigarettes can be your right choice. But if you are still obsessed with the smoking experience or ritual, non-tobacco heated sticks may be more suitable for you.