“I JUST WANT SOMETHING THAT TASTES LIKE MY CIGARETTES!”
As someone who has tried to get a number of people to switch from smoking to vaping, I've heard this comment quite a lot. If you own a vaping shop I would imagine it's something you hear every day.
While it's totally understandable that a smoker would think this way and may seem perfectly logical to them, I'm going to suggest that this way of thinking is, in almost all cases, detrimental to making a successful switch from smoking to vaping.
I think this desire is a big mistake. The main reason being that traditional cigarettes don't actually taste of tobacco, they taste of the smoke given off by burning tobacco and there isn't an e-liquid on the planet that tastes exactly the same as that. Tobacco flavoured e-liquids don't really taste of tobacco smoke. If you go into vaping thinking that only something that tastes very close to your cigarettes is going to work for you in a vapour product, then you are setting yourself up to fail from the start.
It's also worth pointing out that your cigarettes don't actually taste like you think they do. Smoking seriously suppresses your ability to taste and smell things accurately, as we all find out when we stop smoking.
Within just a few days of switching from smoking to vaping that taste you think you want to replicate won't be the taste you thought it was. If you want to know what cigarette smoke actually tastes and smells like, you should ask a non-smoker.
That's not to say that tobacco flavours aren't a good choice for someone just starting to vape. I think they are a great option and I still very much enjoy them myself, even after years of vaping. There's something very comforting in sitting down with a cup of tea and a good tobacco vape.
However I think a more realistic goal overall should be to find a tobacco flavour that tastes better than your cigarettes, which might seem counter-intuitive to a smoker, but in reality is much easier to do than trying to find an e-liquid that tastes exactly the same as the tobacco smoke you are used to.
“So if I shouldn't expect tobacco e-liquids to taste of cigarette smoke, what do they taste like?”
Many vapers compare tobacco e-liquids to the aromas that you smell when you open a new packet of cigarettes or open a fresh packet of tobacco. I've never tried chewing tobacco but I imagine it may be closer to that, tasting the tobacco itself rather than the smoke produced from burning it. Some tobacco e-liquids do have smokey qualities but they more closely resemble the smokey taste you might associate with a cured meat or barbecued food than the smoke itself.
There are a lot of different flavour notes and accents that make up a tobacco flavoured e-liquid. You might describe them as woody, leathery, nutty, earthy, leafy, spicy, floral or even chocolatey in some cases. These flavours combined create a complex blend that gives a tobacco e-liquid a unique depth that a lot of other e-liquid flavours don't have. 'Dessert tobaccos' are a description often given to sweeter tobacco flavours, these will often have caramel, toffee or biscuity notes as a prominent flavour. Many 'tobacco' flavours will have more in common with a spicy chocolate chip and nut cookie, than a cigarette.
If you like flavours like cinnamon and ginger, bitter chocolate, dark roasted coffee, black tea or brown sugar, then tobacco flavoured e-liquids will often fit right into that flavour profile and why people like me really enjoy them.
If you don't enjoy those types of flavours you can of course use an e-liquid that tastes nothing like that at all! You might want to get as far away as possible from anything that reminds you of the tobacco you want to leave behind. For some people that's exactly the right approach to take. I have two friends that are at the total opposite ends of that spectrum, one only vapes light fruit flavours, the other is only interested in the strongest tobacco flavours. In the world of vaping 'tobacco' is really just another flavour to explore and like any other flavour in an e-liquid it can be combined with many other flavours in unique and interesting ways.
In some respects there's no reason why a new vaper should start with a tobacco flavour over any other flavour, but for the same reasons I don't think they should be ignored just because of the 'tobacco' name. I've switched to and from vaping tobacco flavours a lot over the last 5 years, I've had spells of up to 6 months where I haven't touched them and periods when I've used nothing but tobacco flavoured e-liquids. That is one of the benefits of vaping that always stops me going back to smoking. If I am ever in a place mentally where I'm tempted to smoke, a high nicotine tobacco flavour always seems to soothe those thoughts away quickly.
Tobacco flavours can be exciting and nuanced, full of flavour, with many different aromatic notes that can be enjoyed by new and experienced vapers alike. You don't have to start with them and I don't believe you need something that tastes like a cigarette to stop smoking and switch to a vapour product successfully. The choice is always yours and will always suggest trying a number of flavours as a new vaper until you find what works best for you.