Nicotine Content: How Much Nicotine is in a Cigarette vs. Vape — Smoke a fresh cigarette; it’s doctor recommended!” Now there’s a phrase I bet you’ve never seen or heard. Did you know that from 1930-1950, doctors actually recommended smoking a fresh cigarette?

As baffling as that may sound, it wasn’t until 1964 that cigarettes started getting a bad rap for various reasons. This includes the contents of a single cigarette containing high amounts of a very addictive substance: nicotine.

The Presence of Nicotine in a Cigarette and Vapes


How much nicotine, you ask? Well, that question can have various answers, depending on which brand of cigarette you smoke. Some studies had shown that one brand contained over 20 mg, while another only had about 8mg, making the average cigarette content about 12mg. It all depends on the brand you use, how often a day you smoked, and whether you rolled cigarettes yourself or bought them prepackaged in a store.


Now let’s take a brief detour and mention vaping e-liquid (especially when using the best pod system out there) and how that compares. Assessing nicotine levels on e-liquid can be a bit easier since there is a number printed on every e-liquid bottle, showing how much nicotine is in that e-liquid. 0mg, 3mg, and 6 mg of nicotine are the most popular products, depending on how harsh you prefer the throat hit.


What is a throat hit, you ask? A throat hit is how strong the vapor of the e-cig feels like when you inhale it, making you feel a slight tickle on the back of your throat. 3mg is the most common mg level because compared to other levels, it has the gentlest tickle.


0mg is nicotine free, there won’t be a throat hit.  Allowing the user to get the purest flavor of e-liquid with each puff. 6mg is usually reserved for heavy smokers who rely on a strong nicotine level.


This level is helpful for cigarette smokers trying to reduce or quit smoking. A  harsh burning sensation to the back of the throat and can cause coughing fits to those who aren’t used to it. There can be slight variations of the nicotine content, such as 2 or 4 mg, but in general, 0, 3, and 6 are the most common nicotine content levels.

Nicotine Absorption: Cigarette Smoker vs. Vaper

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Bringing this around full circle, how much of this nicotine gets absorbed by a smoker? On average, a smoker will consume a single milligram of nicotine per cigarette smoked. However, keep in mind that it varies due to the cigarette of choice. But again, nicotine is not the cause of cancer and heart disease.


Since the actual cigarette isn’t being ingested and digested by the user, the smoke inhaled is the key factor to how much nicotine the body has to deal with. If you smoke several packs a day, the nicotine absorption level goes up. It is more difficult to compare this to vaping because a vape’s e-liquid usually contains a percentage of nicotine per bottle.


Remember those numbers I mentioned earlier, 0, 3, and 6? They’re percentages of the nicotine content in that bottle size. E-liquid is  VG and PG liquids. (discussed in this article). Of that combination of VG and PG, a percentage of that mixture has a portion of nicotine blended in.

Example – 0.3% Nicotine in a 100mL eLiquid Bottle

For example, 3mg of nicotine in a 100mL bottle means only 3% (0.03) of that e-liquid contains actual nicotine. Based on our previous discovery that a cigarette has 8mg of nicotine per stick, it is easy to see that e-liquid has fewer nicotine levels than the average cigarette.


With that said, it would be impossible to figure out how much nicotine a vape user intakes compared to a smoker. Most vapers take a while to go through a bottle of e-liquid, as opposed to a smoker who finishes a cigarette in a single sitting.


A chain smoker may intake more nicotine than someone who vapes,  to stave off nicotine cravings. Vaping for the entire day may take in more nicotine than someone who has just started smoking. Perhaps someone  only smokes once or twice a day. Such as people who like to smoke cigarettes while having a beer at parties. It all depends on the strength of the vaping e-liquid. And how quickly a Vaper goes through a bottle of e-liquid.


In conclusion, there are several differences between a cigarette and vaping. Each has different levels of nicotine. Distributed differently among different brands. E-Liquid offers several nicotine levels. Cigarettes offer different formulas.


Overall, vaping can be an excellent method of trying to reduce nicotine intake.  Not entirely though.  Unless you opt for a bottle with 0mg of nicotine content. Keep in mind that it is your choice how much nicotine your body absorbs, no matter if you choose cigarettes or e-liquid. Vaping can be a helpful tool for curbing nicotine cravings. However, whether or not you decide to eliminate it is entirely up to you.


And here’s my author’s bio. Can you please add this at the end of the article?
Brandon Owen is a contributor and writer for various sites, magazines, and podcasts. He likes to write just about anything related to health, fitness, and sports. Brandon is also a certified homebody. So when he’s not making ends meet, he stays at home. Playing his favorite MMORPG games, does it get better than that?. Brandon stays pretty active through his love of cycling, swimming and basketball.