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BAT’s Vype E-Cigarette Review - First Thoughts

BAT’s Vype E-Cigarette Review - First Thoughts

The Vype e-cigarette is the first entry into the market by tobacco giant British American Tobacco (BAT), the makers of Lucky Strike, Kent, Dunhill etc. I bought one to check it out, and wanted to post my first thoughts. So here they are!

Firstly, the packaging is very attractive, but completely over the top. Yes, the lid opens with a satisfying ‘click’, and it’s all very neat and highly branded. But the plastic! So much plastic! For a consumer item with a long lifespan, I could almost understand, but for a disposable e-cigarette it seems utterly wasteful and really makes me cross. It also must contribute to the high price of the device. Intriguingly, the package has holes for two e-cigs, yet ships with one. I think it's clear that they'll eventually ship with two, and for the price (£7 - Approx $11) they damned well should already.  

The Vype - appearances.

Taking it out of the packaging, I had a sense of deja vu – it’s basically exactly the same as the Njoy King. The main difference being that the printed cigarette-like wrapper is done more stylishly. But look at the end plugs – they’re identical.

Of course, this doesn’t mean they’re made in the same factory, it’s totally possible that the end pieces are bought in from the same place.

The Vype is light and exactly the same size as a real cigarette. This might be good for some, but I prefer a device that doesn’t look like a cigarette, not least because my wife hates the look of me doing something which basically looks like smoking. Also, there is a worry about ambiguity in public places.

Vaping the Vype

I bought the ‘bold’ Vype, which claims to have ‘classic flavor’. From what I can tell, it has no flavor, but your mileage may vary. I asked my buddy what he thought – and he said exactly the same thing: “Nah, nothing”. That said, it’s not unpleasant, and the strong nicotine content gives it a good throat hit – but flavor fans are not going to be impressed. The vapor production is decent enough for a disposable model, and new-vapers will probably be pleased with it.

[UPDATE] so, I wrote this post at 1 o'clock and I've been using the Vype intermitantly (alternating with my Ego device), and it just ran out (at 17.45) . I have to say, that's pretty bad - I reckon I got no more than an hour's total vaping from it. I have seen some people say they got 30 mins so it's not as if I'm even vaping that heavily. [/Update]

The Claims

Vype’s website claims the Vype is a revolutionary e-cigarette, but honestly I cannot see anything revolutionary about it whatsoever. It’s almost identical to the Njoy King in terms of weight, size and vapor production, and the King came out over 6 months ago. It’s also the same strength, and I don’t understand the lack of flavoring – the King at least has gone for an authentic tobacco flavor, and has nearly succeeded.

The site also makes much of the purity of the Ecopure e-liquid. Now, this irritates me for two principal reasons. Firstly, we know that much of the e-liquid already commercially available is of “surprisingly good quality” from a study by Etter and colleagues (2013), so I have a concern that BAT might be engaging in a little FUD here. Secondly, they don’t actually say what they mean by purity, save that they use pharmaceutical grade nicotine, and only a very small number of ingredients. It’s widely accepted that pharmaceutical grade nicotine (in NRT products) contains trace amounts of TSNAs (tobacco derived carcinogenic compounds), and that e-liquids have comparable amounts of TSNAs as NRT – so can we therefore expect Ecopure liquid to have the same levels, or are they saying it’s purer? It sounds like marketing guff to me.

There is a little more to say about the Vype, which might lead to some insight into what this product actually represents.

Why Vype?

BAT are currently one of the few businesses (the only, according to some) currently engaged in trying to have their product authorized in the UK by the MHRA, the Medicines agency, which is pushing for all e-cigarettes to be drug devices by 2016. It’s unclear whether the Vype itself is the product they wish to gain market authorization (MA) for, or whether they’ll be pursuing authorization with another product in development under their Nicoventures outfit. A couple of things suggest they might well be aiming for MA with the Vype.

Firstly, the lack of flavouring appears to be a strategic decision, because flavors are likely to be a real complicating factor in getting MA. Secondly, the high strength (equivalent to 45mg/ml e-liquid) is clearly designed such that smokers who are unfamiliar with vaping gain sufficient nicotine when using an e-cigarette. Research by Eissenberg et al. (2010 & 2010), showed that e-cig naïve smokers do not receive significant nicotine, but experienced vapers do and we know that the MHRA is particularly interested in measuring the delivery of nicotine to users.

In other words, smokers go through a behavioral change when they move to e-cigarettes as they learn to get sufficient nicotine from the device. Furthermore, over time vapers tend towards using their devices more regularly, and a poll on ECF shows that vapers consume an average of 3.5ml e-liquid per day (compare this to the 0.4 ml in a Vype). It’s unclear why this should be, but a number of variables probably account for it: No “cut off” (tobacco cigarettes burn out,  e-cigarettes don’t); the need to consume more e-liquid to gain sufficient nicotine intake;  more pleasant experience and fewer side effects (sickness, sore throat) leads to increased use. The answer is probably a combination of the above.

The question is, then: are e-cig naïve smokers likely to use disposables like the Vype and find they can limit their use such that they are puffing equivalent to cigarettes – in which case, a Vype might well last for a day. Or are they likely to find, over time, that they puff more, thus finding Vypes to be very uneconomical?

Time will tell, but for me personally Vype has next to no use, except perhaps as an emergency backup.

To be fair to Vype, I hope that many smokers do try them. I wouldn’t have said this a year ago, because the quality of disposables was poor and it worried me that smokers would be put off for life, but a Vype might well open the vaping door for many. That said, if it was a choice between an Njoy King and a Vype, I’d go for the King.

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