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Do E-Cigarettes Smell Like Traditional Cigarettes?

Of all the many unpleasant side effects caused by smoking, the smell is often considered one of the worst.  Not only does the act of smoking produce a horribly unpleasant smell, but this smell can linger on the individual’s breath, skin, clothes, furniture, walls, carpets, drapes, bed sheets and other surroundings for quite some time[1].  E-cigarettes are widely viewed as a far better alternative to traditional cigarettes for many reasons–including the fact that they don’t contain tar and other chemicals like tobacco cigarettes, their nicotine content can be controlled by the user, and much more.  But do they smell?

The Smell of E-Cigarettes

Some individuals will vehemently profess that e-cigarettes and vaporizers have absolutely no smell at all, and others will vehemently profess that e-cigarettes and vaporizers definitely have a smell.  The truth is that while it can vary based on the device itself as well as the e-liquid being used, all e-cigarettes smell.  However, they smell nothing like traditional tobacco cigarettes–largely because there is no tar and combustion involved, so what is being exhaled is not really smoke, but rather vapor that evaporates quickly in the air.

The aroma produced by e-cigarettes comes from the flavor ingredients in the e-liquid, which includes propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, or both, as well as nicotine and flavor.  This aroma can be sweet, fruity, or musky, depending on the flavor, but it is normally very discreet.  In fact, few individuals are able to smell the aroma at all unless the e-cigarettes are being used indoors, and even then it is usually very brief.

It can happen that an individual who is smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes is extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable because they know that it generates a smell that others find unpleasant and even dangerous.  Even worse is the diminished sense of smell that can actually affect a smoker’s sense of taste.  Trying to drown out the smell with cologne, perfume, mouthwash or gum is often unsuccessful and can lead to a powerfully strange smell combination that may be even worse than the smell of tobacco smoke.  E-cigarettes can do wonders for an individual’s self-confidence and self-image because they do not produce unpleasant, lingering smells that make one feel they have to avoid others and struggle to combat and cover up a horribly unpleasant odor that no one wants to be around.


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