Ugh! In Japan, there is a “heated battle” between the big players in the e-cigarette market. It’s reminiscent of the old days when big tobacco ruled the market. The battleground is Japan. I’ll call it the “heat, not burn” war. You can read all about it on sites like Reuters, Bloomberg, or CNBC, but why !?!? You can read about it all here to get an “almost” unbiased opinion. No fake news (wink).


The subject has been so fluid and is moving so fast that it literally changes from month to month this year…2018. The “heat-not-burn war” is so dynamic that the Japanese government, Philip Morris, and e-cigarette devices themselves are all influencing it so much it has reached the global stage. Everyone is reporting and following it. Forbes is also following this “heated debate.” Now, I’ll stop the puns. I promise. What’s the deal with this? Japan banned the import and sale of nicotine-based liquids a few years ago. This made things a bit tough, to say the least, on people who vape there. Japan is smoking less as a whole since the government has been banning paper cigarettes more and more every year. It is now a cascade effect where businesses are also prohibiting smoking in public places such as restaurants, etc. The power that is, like Japan Tobacco International, which owns San Francisco startup Ploom, thinks that they can fill the void by creating a brand new product and attracting smokers. The Japanese government has banned e-juices with nicotine and other smoking bans. A kind of loophole product is based on the e-cigarette. This allows the product to work around these bans and still have a product that burns. Sort of!? You’ll see what I mean later.


Heat Not Burn products, also called R.R.P.s (reduced-risk products), have been created. Heat Not Burn products look like pens shaped like e-cigarettes or Cig-alikes. These devices contain granulated nicotine instead of e-liquid. These products don’t bring the contents up to a combustion temperature but rather to a heated state that releases an aerosol.

WHAT?! Sheesh. Okay. “Hey bro, do you ‘aerosol’? These new devices are less smoky and smell less like traditional cigarettes. You can probably look at it in three different categories. Aerosol, aerosol vapor, and smoke.

How did this all come to be?

Please don’t be confused; the first H.N.B. was not created in Japan. It was actually invented in the United States by R.J. Reynolds in 1988. The product was initially a failure. It has been reintroduced to Japan. Japan Tobacco International (The Japanese government owns one-third of Japan Tobacco International) will release a version of what’s also called a reduced-risk product – aka a reduced nicotine product. Japan Tobacco International, which the Japanese government owns, will release what is also known as a reduced-risk product. Heat Not Burn will release a product named Ploom TECH this year to compete with Philip Morris’ product, the iQos. Philip Morris has marketed the iQos as a product that is low risk. Both are based on e-cigarette shapes.

Why are these products trying to gain a foothold and stake in Japan’s market? In 2009, Japan enacted a smoking ban called the smoke-free places ordinance. It’s only now that it is starting to have a real impact on the traditional smokers. The biggest Japanese cigarette manufacturer, Japan Tobacco International, which the Japanese government owns in a third share. This is the beginning of a war! It’s a war of consumers.


Where does this leave vapers who prefer juice, traditional vaping devices (Box Mods), or vaping tech? Japanese are tech-savvy, and can they really live with a 0mg EJuice?

Semantics: Aerosol, vapor, and smoke. I can clearly see the differences between aerosol and mist but not between the other two categories. This is a weak point in the R.R.P. (Reduced-Risk product). In my opinion, if it’s an aerosol, then I’d say that’s some vapor…period. What are they selling? R.R.P. (Reduced-Risk Product) doesn’t offer much of a reduced risk when they still offer heated tobacco granulated in its ungranulated form. They have reduced smoke, but that is about it. Vaping and e-liquid have always been associated with a reduced risk of second-hand smoke. The same is true.


It seems that the Japanese government is trying to make a new market for granulated tobacco despite its partial ownership in Japan Tobacco International. I can see how people could de-escalate their smoking habits by vaping using e-juice. However, I do not know why they would take a half-step backward to reduced-risk products like the Ploom Tech heat, not burn devices at the whims of government control. What will this heat-not-burn, anti-e-liquid war bring us?

Stay tuned or log in.

Hold on! What happens to liquids or e-liquids containing nicotine? Is this a new, illegal market in Japan? Vaping e-juice containing nicotine on the black market? Vape enthusiasts are lurking in back alleys, dens, and other places with bad reputations. It sounds intriguing and a little mysterious. This is a separate article. We’ll be back with updates on the H.N.B. controversy this year and how it affects traditional vapors.

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