Do Vapes or Heated Tobacco Taste Like Cigarettes?

Looking to switch from continued smoking to a smoke-free alternative? Have questions about whether these alternatives offer the same tobacco taste? 

Simply put, the taste of a cigarette vs e-cigarette devices and heated tobacco products will differ. Read on to discover more about how the tobacco taste may differ between these products.


Do Cigarettes, E-Cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products All Contain Tobacco?

Cigarettes contain real tobacco, which is burned during a process known as combustion. However, not all smoke-free products contain real tobacco, and those that do won’t burn it (hence the name ‘smoke-free’). Understanding this can help set expectations for the overall experience when making the switch from continued smoking to a smoke-free alternative. 

If you’re asking the question ‘do e-cigarettes contain tobacco?’, the answer is generally no. Typically, e-cigarettes (also known as vapes) are battery-powered devices that heat up e-liquid to produce vapour. The e-liquid usually contains ingredients including, but not limited to, nicotine, Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerine (VG). Although an e-liquid may not itself contain real tobacco, it can be produced to have a tobacco taste. 

On the other hand, heated tobacco products do typically utilise real tobacco. For example, IQOS ILUMA heated tobacco devices are used exclusively with TEREA sticks - which are made with 100% real tobacco. What’s more, IQOS ILUMA Smartcore Induction Technology heats tobacco instead of burning it to deliver the taste of real tobacco.


Does a Smoke-Free Alternative to Cigarettes Give the Same Tobacco Taste?

The taste of a smoke-free alternative to cigarettes, like certain heated tobacco products or vapes, may differ depending on the product in question. Let’s explore this in more detail. 


Do Vapes Taste Like Cigarettes?

Vapes vs cigarettes - is there a difference in taste? The short answer is yes. Generally, vapes will use an e-liquid that does not contain tobacco. Because of this, the taste will differ from that of a cigarette.

You may also be wondering, ‘do vapes that taste like cigarettes exist?’, the answer to this is – generally no, as vapes typically produce vapour, while cigarettes typically produce smoke. That said, e-liquid may come in tobacco-tasting options.


Does Heated Tobacco Taste the Same As a Cigarette?

The taste difference between heated tobacco and cigarettes will depend on the specific products in question. For example, IQOS ILUMA provides real tobacco taste and satisfaction. There are a range of TEREA stick tobacco blends available, follow the link to explore them.

Cigarettes taste like smoke. IQOS ILUMA taste like real tobacco, without smoke. The taste you get from cigarettes is in fact the taste of the smoke released when tobacco is burnt. Because IQOS ILUMA heats tobacco instead of burning it, you get the taste of real tobacco, with 95% less harmful chemicals* than cigarettes.

Important information: This does not necessarily equal a 95% reduction in risk. IQOS ILUMA is not risk-free.

* “95% less” represents the average reduction in levels of the 9 chemicals recommended for reduction in cigarette smoke by the World Health Organization, which do not include nicotine. See Important Information on

Other IQOS devices - including IQOS 3 DUO and previous IQOS generations - use IQOS HEETS tobacco sticks instead of TEREA. Follow the link to find out more about this product. 


Cigarette vs E-Cigarette Devices and Heated Tobacco - How Else Are Their Experiences Different?

Beyond the tobacco taste, there may be other changes to consider when making the switch from continued cigarette smoking to vaping or heated tobacco. 

For example, a difference between vaping and smoking cigarettes could be the components and accessories used with each of these products. A rechargeable vape device will typically come with a charger, and you may also need to purchase e-liquid to use the device. On this note, where you purchase a vape or heated tobacco device may differ from where you may have purchased cigarettes. It’s important that you purchase any vaping or heated tobacco products from reputable manufacturers and retailers.

Unlike cigarettes, a vape or heated tobacco device may also require regular charging, cleaning and/or general maintenance to keep it in good condition. You may need to be conscious of storing your device properly, as well as replacing certain parts when necessary. 

When it comes to the overall maintenance and proper charging of your heated tobacco or vape device, make sure to read any accompanying manufacturer guidelines for detailed information on how to do so.  

Lastly, another change you may experience is the number of benefits that come with smoke-free alternatives. For example, IQOS ILUMA does not produce smoke. What’s more, IQOS ILUMA produces no ash. 

You might also be interested to know that IQOS ILUMA produces less smell than cigarettes.* As IQOS ILUMA produces less smell than cigarettes, it is less likely to bother people around you.**

* 93% agreement amongst 674 adult consumers in Japan and Italy, 2020 – 2021.

** 85% agreement amongst 674 adult consumers in Japan and Italy, 2020 – 2021.

In addition to this, switching completely to IQOS ILUMA presents less risk to your health than continuing to smoke.*

Important information: IQOS ILUMA is not risk-free, and provides nicotine which is addictive.

* Based on the totality of evidence available for IQOS in comparison with continuing to smoke. See Important Information on


Cigarette vs E-Cigarette Devices and Heated Tobacco - How to Choose a Suitable Smoke-Free Alternative

When it comes to choosing between heated tobacco vs vaping products, it’s useful to keep in mind your own tastes and personal preferences. It’s also important to know that smoke-free alternatives are not equivalent to quitting tobacco and nicotine use altogether, so they are not cessation aids. However, for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke, switching to a smoke-free alternative could be a worthwhile option.

Smoke-free products are not risk-free and provide nicotine, which is addictive. The best decision any adult smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine use altogether. 

This article is for general information and educational purposes. Some of the information in this article is based on external, third-party sources and we make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding the accuracy, validity or completeness of such information.