How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette vs Vape Products?
When using vapes as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, there are a few things you can learn to help make the switch smoother for you - including how much nicotine in a vape compares to that in a cigarette.
When first switching from cigarettes to vapes, it can be tricky to wrap your head around how the nicotine contents in each product differ, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will take you through the basics when it comes to nicotine vaping. Read on to learn more about nicotine, how much nicotine is in a cigarette vs a vape, and more.
What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a substance that’s found in both tobacco and nicotine e-liquids. It’s colourless, oily and tastes bitter. Nicotine occurs naturally in plants of the nightshade family, which includes the tobacco plant. Nicotine can be consumed in various ways. Not only is it present in cigarettes and vapes, but it’s also found in Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) like patches or gum.
There are some e-liquids that don’t include nicotine in them, which you can find out more about in our guide ‘Are Nicotine Free Vapes Safe?’
Is Nicotine Addictive?
Yes, nicotine is an addictive substance.1 When giving up nicotine, you may start to notice nicotine withdrawal symptoms.2 These can include irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, cravings and more.2 While nicotine is - as the NHS state - ‘relatively harmless’,3 if you’re consuming it through smoking, there are lots of other chemicals produced through tobacco smoke that are seriously harmful to the user.1
Experts agree that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking cigarettes.1 Vapes also don’t produce carbon monoxide or tar, which are some of the most harmful components of tobacco smoke.1 That said, the NHS state that ‘the healthiest option is not to smoke or vape’ and if you are using vaping as an alternative to smoking, you should work towards eventually stopping vaping too.4 Read our article ‘What Happens When You Stop Smoking and Start Vaping’ for more information.
How Much Nicotine is in a Vape?
Exactly how much nicotine is in a vape will depend on the e-liquid you’re using. The nicotine strength of vape juice varies, ranging from zero nicotine to 20 mg - which is the maximum strength allowed in the UK.5 When vaping, you have the advantage of knowing exactly how much nicotine is in your e-liquid, which can’t be said for cigarettes. Trying to figure out how much nicotine is in a cigarette can be tricky as it varies among brands.
You’re really spoilt for choice when it comes to the nicotine strengths available in vapes. Nicotine strengths include:
- 3 mg
- 6 mg
- 12 mg
- 18 mg
- 20 mg
An e-liquid’s nicotine strength will be detailed in the product spec. They are shown as the concentration of nicotine in the e-liquid, and can either be expressed in milligrams or as a percentage. For example, 1.8% equates to an 18 mg nicotine strength.
When first switching over from cigarettes to vapes, it can be confusing trying to understand what nicotine strength suits you best. If you used to smoke quite heavily (up to 30 cigarettes a day), it’s worth checking out our guide on the ‘Best Vapes for Heavy Smokers’ for details. You can also get in touch with the Vaping.com team, who can help you discover the best nicotine strength based on your preferences and nicotine usage history.
How Much Nicotine is in a Cigarette Compared to a Vape?
When it comes to nicotine strengths, it’s not easy to pinpoint the exact vape equivalent to cigarettes. If you’re wanting to know how many mg of nicotine is in a cigarette, it could range from 8 mg to 20 mg.
The actual amount of nicotine you’ll absorb will also vary, both with vaping and smoking. There are several factors that come into play when exploring nicotine absorption, including how frequently you inhale, the amount you inhale, and the product you’re using. If you’re curious about how many cigarettes are equivalent to popular disposable vapes, why not read our guide to ‘How Many Cigarettes in an Elf Bar?’
What Nicotine Strength Vape Juice Should I Vape?
The nicotine strength you should vape can depend on how much you smoked as well as how you vape. If you vape frequently throughout the day, you may prefer a lower nicotine strength. If you vape sparingly, a higher level of nicotine might work best.
To find the ideal nicotine level for you, you might have to test out a few different strengths. When choosing your first e-liquid, it can help to look at how often you smoked, and base the nicotine strength you first try off of that. If you’re looking at what the vape equivalent to cigarettes is, here’s a list of popular nicotine strengths for e-liquids, and the types of smokers who could best match them after transitioning to vaping:
- 0 mg - suitable for vapers who have gradually reduced the nicotine strength they vape at, or those who prefer nicotine-free vaping. Learn more in our ‘Vapers Guide: Nicotine Free Vaping’.
- 3 mg - suitable for those who were light smokers and smoked under 10 cigarettes a day. 3 mg nicotine strength is also good for vapers who currently vape at a higher nicotine strength and are wanting to reduce their nicotine intake.
- 6 mg - suitable for those who were light or moderate smokers.
- 12 mg and above - suitable for those who were ‘heavy’ smokers and smoked up to 30 cigarettes a day.
If you’ve recently transitioned to vaping and need more information, take a look at our blog for more useful guides.
- NHS, ‘Using e-cigarettes to stop smoking’ - https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/using-e-cigarettes-to-stop-smoking/
- Frank, ‘Nicotine’ - https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/nicotine
- NHS Inform, ‘Tobacco’ - https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/stopping-smoking/reasons-to-stop/tobacco
- NHS, ‘Vaping to quit smoking’ - https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/vaping-to-quit-smoking/
- Gov.uk, ‘E-cigarettes: regulations for consumer products’ - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/e-cigarettes-regulations-for-consumer-products