Hello Nick G.:hello:, and welcome to the forum!!
Like so much about vaping, it's all about personal preference. I use both tanks and smileomizers. I like tanks because, in my humble opinion, I tend to get the most intense and strongest flavor out of my juice with a tank and 2 ohm single coil carto. I generally use my tanks with the Dial a Volt (DAV), but I will put one on my Zeus occasionally. I love the Smileos, though. They tend to impart a smoother, more subtle flavor to my favorite juices....and the vapor production I get out of the Smileos...WOW, freaking WOW! I use the Smileos on all my devices, Zeus, DAV, my OMG All Day, and occasionally a titan stick battery. You will just have to try them both to find what you like best.
What is the benefit of using a tank over the Smileomizer?
If you burnt the carto, you would know it by the most foul, burnt paper taste you get vaping it. Most likely you simply over-filled the darn thing and it leaked a bit. Over-filling can be overcome, and won't kill a carto...under-filling however will result in burning of the carto and then it's a gonner...
I tried to fill the tank and ended up with stinky oil all over my hands and it barely worked to produce vapor, could I have possibly burned the Cartomizer?
Here is a link about tank filling that may help: How to fill your e-fluid tank - YouTube
BHam also has one around here somewhere, but I'm a unabashed and shameless self-promoter...what can I say?
Yes. If you are using tanks, then the cartos will need periodic replacing. How long a tank carto (or Smileo, or regular carto) lasts depends on your vaping habits (chain-vaping), what voltage you vape at, and what fluid you use. Also, drip-tips wear out after a while so I would have a few of those for back-up. When you find the system that works for you, buy multiple batteries (yes, this can be expensive but you'll be glad you did!) Also, tanks do wear out...eventually. Over time the little rubber O-rings degrade, deform and get stretched out leading to leaks
Beyond the starter kit, is there anything beyond the juice and charging the battery that I need to replace? I dont want to just go crazy and buy two of everything, but i do want to be prepared.
Taste is extremely subjective, so I don't know how much help I can be there. I would recommend you try a few of the tobacco sampler packs and find what flavor works for you.
I currently smoke marlboro reds (about a pack a day, sometimes more) .... which juice would come closest to resembling that taste?
Try lots of flavors. Don't get frustrated, there is a learning curve to the equipment. Ask lots of questions here on the forum. Avoid leaving your batteries in the car. Heat is bad for your device, and so is cold. Keep your batteries clean. Clean the post and the threads at least once per week with 100 proof drinking alcohol and let dry thoroughly. This goes for your (slimline) charger too. Don't expose ejuice to direct sunlight for long periods, or heat for that matter. Keep them in a dark, cool-to-room temp storage area like a closet or a drawer. Get multiples of your preferred setup, i.e. DAV and tank, Zeus and Smileo...while vaping, pay attention to how warm your carto/tank/Smileo is getting. If it starts to get really warm, rotate to the next device. Avoiding over-heating will extend the life of your cartos and prevent leaking due to burn-through of the wicking tube. I can't think of anything else right now but I am sure others will chime in here...
Is there anything I should know about so as to avoid making any big mistakes.
I don't know about the strict legality of it. I have heard that some people have used them and gotten away with it, and some have gotten into trouble. They won't set off a lavatory smoke detector (as long as you don't blow the vapor directly into the sensor...) and some of us get really good at "stealth-vaping"...
Is it true that using these things on planes is illegal?
Well, I hope some of this helps!! Don't be a stranger here on the forum and as always...