Do Electronic Cigarettes Contain Tobacco?

There are many smoking alternatives out there today available for adult (21+) smokers, and each have different features and functions. Some adult (21+) smokers may have the tendency to wrongly group all smoking alternatives under one category: “electronic cigarettes”. However, electronic cigarettes are actually only one type of smoking alternative, specifically referring to products that do not contain real tobacco. Did you know that there are other types of smoking alternatives which contain real tobacco?


Let’s take a look at these different options.  

First things first. What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes – also called e-cigarettes or vapes – are one type of alternative to smoking. The key thing to note about e-cigarettes is that they do not utilize real tobacco. Rather, they heat e-liquids (sometimes called vaping liquid), which evaporates, producing a vapor that is drawn from the device through a mouthpiece. 

No combustion occurs when a user draws from an electronic cigarette, as nothing actually burns. While there is vapor, there is no smoke. This is why electronic cigarettes are sometimes referred to as a smoke-free alternative to cigarettes. In addition, the e-liquids utilized in e-cigarettes can come with or without nicotine, and generally come in various flavors, including tobacco flavor. So, while there may be e-liquids that produce a vapor that tastes like tobacco, e-cigarettes with real tobacco do not exist.

If electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, what types of smoking alternatives do?
While you won’t be able to find “e-cigarette tobacco”, if you are an adult (21+) who would otherwise continue to smoke or use other nicotine products, there are smoke-free tobacco products that you can explore. In this case, heated tobacco may be what you are looking for. 

Heated tobacco, or heat-not-burn, is a type of smoke-free technology. Heated tobacco devices utilize real tobacco that is specially processed and formed into sticks. The tobacco sticks are then inserted into the device, where the tobacco is heated to very specific, controlled temperatures. This controlled heating ensures that the real tobacco does not burn; however, since there is heating involved, tobacco flavors are released, while smoke and ash are eliminated from the tobacco experience. 

IQOS is one example of a heat-not-burn device that utilizes real tobacco, formed into tobacco sticks called HEETS, developed to be used exclusively with IQOS technology. HEETS are made of real tobacco leaf which are specially prepared and compressed. They are also designed to last around 14 puffs, which is around the same amount of time as a cigarette. IQOS heats the tobacco stick via a heating blade, which means the tobacco is heated first (and not the paper wrapped around the tobacco stick), ensuring a consistent tobacco taste and experience. HEETS tobacco sticks are not risk free and are addictive; they contain nicotine, which is naturally occurring in tobacco. 

How do I choose between electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco?

Once the main difference between electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco is understood, it is a matter of personal preference for the adult (21+) smoker who is looking for a smoking alternative. Electronic cigarettes do not contain real tobacco, but rather, utilize an e-liquid which is vaporized, allowing the experience to be smoke- and ash-free. 

On the other hand, heated tobacco products, like IQOS, utilize real tobacco formed into sticks, like HEETS, which provides real tobacco taste, just with the added benefits of a smoke-free alternative.

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