For the largest part of my life, i have been a smoker. At times, a heavy smoker. Still now, i love to smoke. it’s a part of me, a system; after a nice meal, i smoke. While drinking, i smoke. When I’m outside standing around, i smoke. Right before going to bed, i smoke. ahhh… smoking is great!

But as i got older, i worried a little about my health. i still smoked, but not as much. Thank God that my wife really didnt mind me smoking or i would have had more smoke. If she were to nag about smoking, id just fire back and smoke more just to piss her off. I feel the same about non-smokers and ex-smokers who bitch about ‘the smell of smoke’. its just a smell, for crying out loud… you won’t die!

On rainy cold days in Seattle, the smell of smoke would stick on me. honestly, i didnt like that smell at all. I smelled like a wet dog. My wife would constantly be irritated smelling my clothes when she did the laundry. And when my wife was pregnant for her second time, she would immediately vomit from the smell combined with her morning-sickness. I would have to keep my distance from her.

Honestly, i have tried vaping…vaporizing…vapor…whatever the hell its called… it didnt work. and it was expensive, messy and quite frankly, i looked stupid with this bong-looking thing that i was sucking on. it didnt look as cool as a cigarette…it looked like i was smoking my smartphone, or something electronic. not cool…nor did it work. and all the charging, loading the liquid, etc. too much work and i didnt have enough room for all those accessories to just smoke. after a week or so trying the vapor, i went right back to the cigarette.

My family and i moved back to Tokyo, Japan. what a heavenly place this is to smoke. Though the laws have become a bit more strict than when i was here 5 years before, you can still smoke in restaurants, bars, cafe and some establishments. omg, it was awesome. but the bad part was that the reduced the smoking spaces. what was once a place for 20 smokers to smoke had been reduced to only 5. And since the same 20 smokers still smoke, they are crammed into a place that should only hold 5 smokers. It’s like a gas chamber! seriously! i love smoking but these tiny, reduced places are dangerous!

A few times buying cigarettes, i saw a promotion about this ‘iQOS’ cigarette… Vapor? nope. e-cigarette? nope. what was it!? curious, i wanted to buy it…but $50!? yikes! After my complaint about the pricing in Japanese to the convenient store clerk at Family Mart Store, he ensured me that it was worth it. I asked in Japanese, “does it smell?” he replies, “no….it doesn’t even burn so theres no smell. In fact, 90% of the harmful chemicals are eliminated…” i thought it was bullshit and was not worth buying, but the store clerk took out his from his pocket while saying, “i used to smoke regular cigarettes, but now i use iQOS. never went back to regular cigarettes”.  hmmmm…. “its too expensive to try…” but he took a sample of these ‘heat sticks’ which are a bit smaller in circumference and about half the length of a regular cigarette, and he escorted me to the smoking section on the second floor of the convenience store (strange but very cool convenience store, right?). spoiler alert…i already tried putting a regular cigarette in it…it doesn’t fit. lol!

While in the smoking room, he opened the charger and pulled out a ‘holder’ which is the part that you smoke from. He placed the heat-stick in side and pressed a button which begins the heating process. takes about 10 seconds, then i began to smoke as usual.

The heatstick became warm. i inhaled. i could feel something inside my mouth and lungs which was filled up with this stuff. unlike e-cigarettes and vapor cigarettes, i could actually feel the smoke! Exhaled… smoke? i don’t know what it is but its not smoke and it disappears very fast. The clerk told me that i could smoke inside my home and no one would know i smoked. Really!? even my pregnant wife? He guaranteed it. It took me about 6 minutes to smoke it. You can get 16 hits or 6 minutes of smoke. When its just about depleted, the green LED indicator changes to Red. that means you have 2 more hits or 20 more seconds to just hold. it. After i was done, he advised me to always open the holder before removing the heat-stick…i have to say it again cause i too keep forgetting……. Always Open The Holder Before Removing The Heat Stick. if you don’t, the heating element will come out. don’t worry. you can just push it back in. After removing the heat-stick, he placed it in the trash directly. “wait!”, i jumped… he smirked and said “since the tobacco is not burned, there is no fire.” wow! no worries about starting fires when your smoking these! iQOS ‘warms’ the tobacco…not burn!

Since i thought it was worth a try to smoke this iQOS, i bought it! $50 for the set which included; 1-heat stick, 1-charger, 1-usb plug (you can use an Android charger as an extra backup), and instructions. Heat-sticks themselves cost me USD $3.75 or JPY460 and includes 20 heat-sticks.  I went on my happy way and went home. as i walked, i wondered if all that the convenient store clerk said was true or not…i wonder…

I arrived back home late. my wife and son were sleeping. my other son inside my wife. i could not kiss them goodnight as i had been smoking regular burnable cigarettes all day. my smell would wake them as a skunk would… “ill start using iQOS from tomorrow and see if my wife could tell or not… lets try it for a week…”

2 months later, I’m still using the iQOS. A few times, i have taken a smoke… but i couldn’t finish it. the taste of going back to the cigarette was like burning paper. Disgusting.

At this time iQOS is only available in selected cities in Japan, Italy and Switzerland. So far in Tokyo,  cigarette smokers are switching to iQOS. Im enjoying iQOS as an alternative to smoking. with no smell, no burn, the elimination of 90% of the harmful chemicals…it is well worth the investment!

Troubleshooting iQos

  • If the heatstick or charger does not work, press and hold for 10 seconds
  • Clean your heatstick with the provided brush
  • If the top doesn’t stay closed, use a rubber band or hairband
  • If you cannot get a good drag, while the heatstick is on, remove the cigarette completely by pulling off the cap (your cigarette will come out). Then carefully re-insert the cigarette without the cap. Smoke as usual
  • Do not clean by scratching the heat element inside the heatstick as the element will break. I have done this before. A complete destruction of your heatstick will be shown by a blinking red light
  • if your heat element has not broke and you still see the blinking red light on the heatstick, check your charging elements on your charger. Sometimes debris will make its way inside it preventing the charging. This happened to my friend where we found a piece of gum wrapper was lodged inside the top cover. Once we removed the piece of paper, it began to work again.