​What has more nicotine, a cigarette or a bottle of vape juice?

Posted by Expivape Staff on Aug 12th 2018

Many of us are very confused when it comes to how much nicotine we consume when we smoke a cigarette or when we are vaping our favorite e-juice.

Today we will go ahead and explore how much nicotine consumption occurs when a person smokes a cigarette versus when one is vaping e-juice.


Cigarettes will be different from one another in a lot of ways, and one of those ways is how much nicotine they contain. You cannot just say all cigarettes contain such and such amounts of nicotine.

Overall, the average, by the way, is about 12 mg per cigarette. The large majority of cigarettes fall between a range of 8 mg and 20mg. But it is important to note that most of those within that range hit near the low end.


Let’s suppose there are 12 mg of nicotine in a cigarette, However, you don’t actually get all of this when you are done smoking the cigarette.

You exhale a large portion of that, and your body doesn’t assimilate and absorb all the nicotine you inhale.

The tip burns throughout smoking, which leads to some wasted nicotine. Some nicotine is also inevitably caught in the filter, reducing the amount that gets to you.

Finally, only some of the nicotine (the non-ionized nicotine) is actually absorbed by the body. In the end, you may only absorb about 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette.

On average, a smoker would actually absorb into their body about 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette.


Now that we know that on average 1 mg of nicotine is consumed when smoking a cigarette, how much nicotine is consumed when vaping e-juice?

Lets take an example of a bottle of e-juice with the following contents: 60 ML of juice and nicotine strength of 3 mg.

So in this definition we know that for every ML of e-juice, there is 3 mg of nicotine.

Now if one were to consume 5 ML of e-juice in one day, that would mean that person has consumed has 15 mg of nicotine that day correct?

Incorrect, there are many factors that goe into how much nicotine one has actually has consumed when all is said and done.

When one is vaping, there are many factors that can influence how much nicotine is actually absorbed by the body, some of these factors we can list below

- differences in devices and the rate at which you vaping a set amount of e-liquid, lead to big differences in how the nicotine is transferred to your body

- If you are a “dripper” using an advanced atomizer (RBA or RDA), 3mg/mL may give you the same effect you’d get from 6 or 12mg/mL e-liquid vaped from a starter kit or cartomizer, like an eGo pen-style vaporizer.

- temperature settings, types of coils used in the tank, and the type of tank being used can make a huge difference.

- everyone takes different lengths of draws at different times. One can consume more or less nicotine depending on how long they inhale when drawing in the vapor from the tank.

So what is the take away from all this? Nicotine absorption can differ heavily on what settings you have set your device to, or what kind of set up you have. The absorption of nicotine mainly occurs when you are inhaling, and how much of that nicotine is actually lost or exhaled back into the open air is very uncertain.

-Nicotine from vaping is not as efficiently absorbed by your body; there's evidence the particle size is larger and travels less deeply into your lungs. But it is absorbed by the membranes in your mouth and nose.

  • -There are not the additives in e-liquid that are present in burned in a cigarette. As an example E-juice has 3 ingredients; a tobacco cigarette has 4000 it's thought.


A lot of devices nowadays have puff counters which count how many puffs or hits you have taken. A lot of these devices also incorporate a feature that will lock the device after you have taken a certain amount of puffs.

Some unverified sources state that the body usually is able to absorb about 1/3 or ¼ of the nicotine once it is inhaled into the lungs. So going back to our initial example of an E-juice that has 3 mg of nicotine per ML, this means that if you consume 5 ML of that e-juice in one day then that means you might have consumed 25% of 15 mg of nicotine or which comes out to 3.75 MG of nicotine. This comes almost equal to 4 cigarettes

Once again, all of this data still needs to be verified by more research and testing. There are many statistics and research out there, but a lot of them may be biased due to how the tobacco industry is trying to make vaping or e-juice look bad in general in order prevent tobacco and cigarettes sales from going down.

We encourage everyone in the vaping community to always verify and research to make sure vaping is a healthy choice for you.

Thanks and keep on vaping.

Expiavpe.com staff