The In-Between

Not smoking and not Electrofag. The Gateway to Vaping, the Gadget with Baccy, exists and I have one.

I’ve looked at these before but was put off by the price. The special offer (also available in white but be quick, it’s a limited time offer) was enough to persuade me to give it a go. It arrived yesterday and I’ve used 17 of the microfags supplied already.

Most of what I was going to say has already been well covered from a vaper perspective. This is from a smoker perspective. The technical details are the same so there’s no point me repeating them.

Let’s open the box…

Lots of gadgetry and some unidentifiable weird things. I was forced to break with tradition and actually read the instructions.

(UPDATE: I hadn’t realised that some folk haven’t seen that charger plug [UK type] before. It’s a fold down thing. You have to slide up the earth pin for it to fit a UK socket. It’s not immediately obvious, it just looks like so many other plug variants we get here that need an adaptor.)

First thing I noticed was that it seemed counter-intuitive. You put the microfag in one end and the microfag filter is where you get your ‘smoke’. So it’s like a cigarette holder but in reverse. The weird things turned out to be cleaning devices. Like any other contraption, it needs regular cleaning to work at its best. Well that’s reasonable.

Which reminds me, my car must be due for its annual wash soon. Then again, the recent torrential rain did a decent job.

I charged up the case, which didn’t take very long, about 20 minutes or so, inserted the electrofagalike and waited for it to charge. Took roughly 5 minutes. The instructions say the case can charge the smoky thing at least 20 times on one charging of the case. Well, 17 microfags in and it’s still at 75% charge so I’m guessing it’ll last a while yet.

Oh I’m not kidding about the microfags…

They are Fifth Element microfags, as you’ll see later. You can’t light these to smoke them, the tobacco is packed way too tight in the end and it’s about 75% filter. They only work with the IQOS smoky thing.

So anyway, I fired one up and gave it a go. First impression, it wasn’t quite like smoking. There was a wisp of ‘smoke’ (contrast with the cumulo-nimbus generators some vapers use) but it actually did taste like smoking. The one thing vaping never got right for me was the tobacco taste. All the other flavours, even roast chicken flavour, they have spot on but they never really got tobacco flavour right.

This is actual tobacco. The taste is right. The thing is, it’s not burning. There’s no ash to build up as you type and then drop onto your keyboard. If you drop the gadget, it won’t burn into your carpet. All good so far.

The smoke is warm but not as hot as a burning cigarette and it leaves that ‘I’ve just smoked’ feeling in your mouth. I have the menthol ones and yeah, they work. Not right away. I’d say it took me about five tries to get the hang of it. I was trying to puff like a real one and that’s too fast for it. You need to take it slow.

Not too slow. This, unlike the Electrofags I’ve tried, has an end point. The vaper review I linked to puts it from a vaper, ex-smoker perspective. Vapers can take a puff or two and put it away. Smokers are stuck with a lit cigarette until it’s either done or they get fed up and put it out. Smokers are used to a defined length of time for a smoke.

So, the device’s programming to stop after 6 minutes or 14 puffs means it ends like a real one. A smoker trying an Electrofag for the first time is likely to puff away until the battery runs out – which could be hours. This thing stops when it’s done.

Another point from the other review – you have to wait a few seconds for this to heat up. Insert the microfag and press the button until the light starts flashing. When it stops flashing you are ready to go. Don’t press the button again, that will turn it off. For a smoker, these are the few seconds of digging out your lighter and lighting the thing. Vapers are used to just pressing the button and getting instant-on responses. I’d say this will work better for smokers than for vapers – and since so many vapers are now as anti-tobacco as the people who hate them too, they won’t try it anyway.

The spent microfag sometimes has a discolouration in the middle but look at the filter. The filter is still clean. There’s nothing like the darkening you get on a real smoke’s filter! Really, there’s not much of the bad stuff, if any, coming through when you use this thing.

And another thing. You ‘smoke’ at the filter end and then discard the whole microfag. No mouthpiece to worry about contamination. They are as single-use as real cigarettes. Smokers concerned about the hygiene aspects of sucking on the same mouthpiece over and over (I know there are some) will appreciate that.

The used tobacco end. It is tempting to think there is re-usable tobacco in there. No, there isn’t. The scorched part was in direct contact with the heater but it’s all been heated. There’s nothing reusable left. And there wasn’t much to begin with…

Well of course I took it apart. Would you have expected anything less? I wanted to know if I could make my own microfags. Sadly, at the moment, it’s ‘no’. I could make the baccy plug from homegrown but the paper tube isn’t just a cut-down of a tubing tube. It’s lined with some kind of foil and I doubt it’s kitchen foil. However, if this thing proves popular, there will be a market for empty tubes and the means to fill them. Bull Brand are no doubt already working on it.

Why would I consider making my own? As I said at the start, I was put off getting one of these by the startup price – and also the running price. At £7 for 20 microfags it’s really not much cheaper than smoking real ones. However, if they can keep that price constant while tobacco controllers push up real-smoke prices then the differential will become more attractive. At the moment though, it won’t attract smokers who are trying to switch for cost reasons. Which is a shame because that’s a really big chunk of the market.

It’s really only going to attract two types of smoker. Those who are trying to switch for health reasons and those who just love gadgets. Especially when the gadget is half price.

Verdict: I really like this thing. I have tried a few Electrofags and liked them but really only enjoyed them with the weird flavours. They could never replace smoking for me, they don’t have the tobacco flavour right. This IQOS is an in-between and I could well imagine smokers using this as a stepping stone to vaping. I will never believe vapers will use it to switch to smoking but the hysterical smokophobes will no doubt believe it. I might even be the one to prime their hysteria. Just to watch the antismoker vapers squeal. Some of us don’t care about money… 😉

It has not replaced real smoking for me but then it has only been two days. I have smoked far fewer real ones in those two days and this has the potential to almost replace real ones for me. Almost, mainly because I could not use it while driving long distances. You can’t set this up while driving and you can’t use it in the car because you can’t let go of it in use. If you let it dangle from your lips, the microfag slips out of the machine and the machine lands on the floor. At home, no problem. It won’t burn anything. It won’t burn anything in the car either but trying to find where it’s rolled to at 70 mph on a motorway is out of the question.

You also can’t flick a glowing butt out of the window at tailgaters. It always makes them pull back. ‘The road is mine’ and ‘the air is mine’ turns out to be the same mindset.Throwing a dead microfag at them won’t have the same effect.

There is also the final nail in the coffin  – I really like smoking. I like the blue haze and the burning smell. This device gets close but does not quite replicate it. It can, however, replace some of my daily smoking with something that carries less risk. As the cost of smoking continues to escalate the price differential could get much bigger. That would encourage me to use this more. As it is, I think it will be in use daily because it’s far closer to smoking than any Electrofag.

It won’t make me drift all the way to vaping, but it’s likely to for some. The only thing that would do that for me would be if vaping got the tobacco flavour just right. I’ll vape the weird flavours for fun but it won’t be full time unless I can vape something that tastes like the real thing.

The IQOS does taste like the real thing. A little muted maybe but the taste is right.

If the price differential between this and real cigarettes was greater I might go for it. As it is, it’ll almost certainly cut down my intake of real cigarettes although it won’t replace them entirely.

If it does, I’ll need LED-powered fake cigarette buts to throw at tailgaters.

I could probably make those.


(UPDATE 14th March: I’m still using it but also still smoking. It hasn’t defeated the real ones and might never do. It has, however, reduced my intake of the real ones which is only a marginal cost saving at the moment. I don’t feel any different yet, maybe I’m too damn healthy for it to show a difference. I’ll see if it does anything healthy to me in a week or so.)

22 thoughts on “The In-Between

  1. Do you think they’d be okay in an hotel room, medium grade, minimal fabrics?

    It’ll be one night and at least 3 hours between my leaving and the cleaners starting. Window left open.


    • I think they would. They produce a tiny amount of ‘smoke’ and there’s no real smoke, no particulates so nothing to linger.

      Might not be as satisfying as a real one but better than nothing.


  2. What is the mouth feel compared to a real cigarette? Does it feel you’re sucking in vapor/air that tastes like tobacco, or it feels like smoke? In other words, does it feel like you’re smoking a filterless or an ultra light cigarette (it appears so, judging by the length of the filter)?


    • I have the menthol microfags so they are light anyway. I’ve ordered some of the amber (full strength) ones to try out, I’ll report on those when they arrive.

      They do leave you with that mouth feel you get after a smoke but less intense.


  3. My question was much the same as SmokingScot’s.

    Would it be ok to have my first cup of coffee in the morning using the Iqos in a hotel room. I really hate getting dressed before I’m properly awake and having to stumble outside.

    I’ve been avoiding hotels since 2007 and I’d really like to stay in one again.


    • To clarify, unlike Rose I’ll be smoking in the room for most of the evening (8 fags minimum), then 2 or 3 the following morning.

      If I do that now the smell will linger and places like Travel Lodge will take £150 off my card for cleaning.

      Removing the towels, running the shower and sitting on the loo with the cover down is okay in the morning for one fag – and leave the fan on and the window open. But too much hassle for me for the whole stay.


      • You might want to go out for a real one – especially if they know you are a smoker, they’ll be suspicious if you don’t. But this could fill in the gaps and I’d say 8-10 of them would still produce less lingering odour than one real cigarette.


        • Thanks. I’ll wait until you gain more experience with them before getting one.

          I’m assuming the device and charger weigh about the same as a mobile phone. Do tell if I’m wrong.


          • 4.5 x 2 x 3/4 (inches) and yes, about the same as a mobile phone. The packs of 20 microfags are roughly 3 x 2 x 5/8 (inches) and weigh next to nothing.

            The charger still had half its charge when I finished the first pack of 20. I’ll see how much further it can go.


    • There’s a tiny amount of ‘smoke’ so a hotel bathroom fan will make it vanish in a flash. I think it would be enough to give you time to wake up properly 🙂


  4. Leggy, if you would be so good, a little experiment might help some of your readers. Does the vapour from your IQOS trigger your domestic smoke alarm? If so it will probably trigger the ones in hotels.


    • No it doesn’t – but then neither do cigarettes.

      Sometimes high humidity can set them off, or dust, or paint fumes… but they really aren’t all that good at detecting smoke.


      • I’ve found much the same. For years I smoked in this office without ever triggering the alarm. And now I vape most of the time, again no response from the alarm. If there is one thing that usually does trigger it, it’s striking a match, then blowing it out. Mind you, there are more sensitive detectors available, so here’s an idea for our little community: On arrival in your hotel room, unpack the scented candle you brought with you, strike a match, light the candle, blow out the match. Lie back for 5 minutes to enjoy the scented ambience. If there’s no alarm, you’ll know they probably can’t tell if you’re smoking in there. If there is, you protest their over-reaction to your aromatherapy candle.


  5. Great read, if it helps I chuck used Snus portions at tailgators, doesn’t have the same effect as a lit cig, but the perplexed look on their face at the soggy tobacco pillow is priceless.


  6. If that is PMI, then I couldn’t care less about it. PMI has declared war on smokers and is now making a product to suit anti smokers. It thinks by buying into the crap of a world without smokers, or as smokerphobics call it, a smoke free world, it can push this product on us and leave us with no choice when it stops making traditional cigarettes as it has promised rabid antis.

    If and when some other company makes a hnb as well as traditional smokes for its core customers then I might give it a try. Until then, PMI and it’s smoke free foundation that pushes all the ugly lies on smoking and health, including the scam of SHS, can just f#*k off.

    Why can’t they just leave us alone and stop forcing us to their view of what makes harm reduction.


    • PMI won’t stop selling real cigarettes. Their competitors would soak up their business overnight. They know they will never completely replace cigarettes with this gadget, they’re getting in on a lucrative ‘alternative’ market without touching anyone else’s copyright.

      What they’ve done with this venture is put Tobacco Control in a no-win situation. Either they openly collaborate with a tobacco company or they make it clear they are not about harm reduction at all.

      Although their attacks on Electrofag have already made that clear.

      Besides, the difference between Electrofag/IQOS makers and sellers and TC is that the alternative group aren’t pushing for smoking bans. They are offering an alternative. PMI would love to corner both the smoking and alternative markets – they aren’t anywhere near ready to drop the smokers and probably never will be.

      TC, on the other hand, is where the authoritarians live.


  7. Pingback: Vaping In The News – March 17th, 2018 - Misty Vapours

  8. Pingback: My IQOS Experience | Frank Davis

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