Artifical tobacco flavours


state alpha
class lingo
category conflation
motivation appeal to spite (again?)
science aversion 🟧🟧

Policy makers likely assume "tobacco" flavoured e-cigarettes to taste largely like combustible cigarettes. They don't. Or that this ought to be the natural taste companion of nicotine. It isn't. And even that this would make them repelling to any and all non-smokers. Not historically, no. - Which are all probable progenitors for the flavour-fallacy.

Tobacco flavours aren't real. They're mostly quite synthetic compounds (mix of cocoa, liquorice, herb, wood aromas). It's absurd to replicate any burnt/ash aromas or aftertaste from just plant extracts. Even the overcentrated flavour mixes only resemble dried leaves, but don't provide exact replicas. (Even less plausible for muted 3.5µl puffs in pod devices). They're often just carried by name association and impaired taste buds. Which is why they're prevalent for dual use, not for successful quitters.

chemical compounds

HealthCan made a frail attempt at prescribing tobacco flavours by aggregating an ingredient list. Quite a few mishaps, duplicates, and very apparent why this won't work. But even a short overview confirms the most common perceptions:

perfume agent odor, taste, description
corylone Burnt
trimethylpyrazine Cocoa, Earth, Must, Potato, Roast
2,3-dimethylpyrazine coffee, wines
anethole anise, fennel, liquorice
beta-damascone rose
estragole estragon, I guess?
isophorone peppermint-like
tetramethylpyrazine fermented cocoa, sourdough
3-methyl-2-cyclopentenone Fruit
2-hydroxyisophorone woody, phenolic, nut
methyl benzoate feijoa tree fruit
2-acetylpyridine corn tortillas, popcorn, beer
3,5-xylenol not actually a flavouring agent, but toxin?
safranal safran, I guess?
propenylguaethol sweet-vanilla, woody, spicy, tobacco, powdery
4-ethylanisole anis
gamma-valerolactone ?
2-acetylfuran nut, balsamic, cocoa, coffee
furfuryl alcohol faint burning, bitter
cuminaldehyde cumin, clove, parsley, thyme, beef, brandy
5-methylfurfural tamarind, cinnamon spice, caramel
4-methyleneisophorone ?
ketoisophorone musty, woody, sweet tea, tobacco leaf
beta-damascenone roses
methyl nicotinate niacin ester, not a flavor
veratraldehyde woody (vanillin extract)
pyridine fish-like smell
2,4-xylenol smoky roasted
methyl phenylacetate strong honey
butyric acid isn't that nic "salts"?
ethyl vinyl ketone pungen,t pepper, mustard, garlic
ethyl cyclopentenolone sweet, maple, whiskey
nonanoic acid unpleasant, rancid odor
geraniol pleasant odour
phenethyl isovalerate floral, fruity
2-ethylfuran bean, ethereal, cocoa, bread, malt, coffee, nut
ambroxan amber, hints of caramel and tobacco
acetylpyrazine popcorn, roast, nut
3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxytoluene phenolic, smoky, medicinal, wood, clove, root, must
cedrol Cupressus, Juniperus, Oregano

Incomplete list, but I would have expected more cocoa bases, certainly more caramel-like descriptors and liquorice. But the prevalence of herb/spice aromas explains quite a bit already.

  • It's fair to assume that the mix complexity does counter the overall risk reduction from e-cigs.
  • Even though there's little heating/nor pyrolysis in NVPs.
  • But still more chemical interactions than in basic aromas.

(ToDo: response from FA would be more useful).

random reviews

While vendor descriptions are more optimistic, most user-reviews point towards the obvious:


Hon Lik’s original e-cigarette came unflavoured (just PG+nic). Once commercially available, basic forrest fruit additives came about. But "tobacco" flavours took quite a few more years to materialize. RY4 was the first that provided some resemblance:

NET flavours

Natural-extract tobacco aromas are rare. But reportedly come closer to the plant-like taste (than herb-emulation could). They simulate burnt and aftertaste perceptions even less. And of course can be presumed to have a slightly higher toxicity (irrelevant in comparison to combustibles, but higher than basic fragrances).

  • Assessment on RY8 (fruity concentrate smell, minty if overdosed, largely mystery taste).
  • → This seems to be the main confusion of policy makers. Based on the assumption that the "tobacco" label implies the presumed "appalling" cigarette taste or something. Or it's really intended as retribution/penalty for former smokers. (Get away with making them repelling to ex-smokers without expliciting poop flavours.)
  • Should also add a note that e-cig users are perhaps overworried, the relapse effect from ATFs is less probable after polonged vaping. (Much more plausible for recent switchers. But also voluminous RDA/RTA usage.)
  • (push for ATFs in e-cigs might just be regulatory validation creep again.)