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How much nicotine is in cigarettes

How Much Nicotine Is In a Cigarette?

If you’re just starting vaping or you’re interested in regulating the amount you vape, finding out how much nicotine is in a cigarette can serve as a useful guide. It’s not as easy as you might hope to translate this directly to an amount you should vape, but once you learn how many mg of nicotine is in a cigarette, you can make rough estimates of how much you’ll need to vape, and it can help you choose the right nicotine strength for your e-liquid.

Key Conclusions

  • There is between 10 to 15 mg of nicotine in a cigarette, and about 1 mg makes its way into the smoke.
  • For vaping, there is between 0 and 24 mg of nicotine per ml of e-liquid.
  • The amount of nicotine in the vapor varies according to device and wattage, but after 20 puffs, it’s equal to or higher than the amount put out by a cigarette.
  • We don’t absorb nicotine as well by vaping, so even with more nicotine in the vapor, you have to vape for longer to feel satisfied.
  • It’s recommended that new vapers start at 1.2 % or 1.8 % nicotine, depending on your device.

The Nicotine Content of Cigarettes – Yields vs. Raw Content

The question of how much nicotine is in a cigarette is quite easy to answer because cigarettes have been extensively studied and are required to show a practical illustration of their nicotine content on the pack.

There are really two different things to consider, though: the nicotine that’s actually present in the tobacco before it’s burned and the nicotine that is delivered as part of the smoke. The values shown on the side of cigarette packs are the “yields” of nicotine; that is, the amount of nicotine a smoker actually consumes when they smoke the cigarette. Really this is much less than the amount of nicotine that’s actually in the tobacco itself.

Raw Nicotine Content of Cigarettes

So for the content of nicotine actually in a cigarette, not taking into account how much is delivered to the smoker, the figure is generally between 10 and 20 mg of nicotine per cigarette. For older cigarettes, the average was estimated at about 18 mg. However, the amount of nicotine in cigarettes is reducing over time, so several studies now cite figures between 10 and 15 mg for the raw nicotine content of cigarettes. One example study actually measured this for Marlboro and Lambert and Butler cigarettes, and found nicotine content ranging from 11.4 to 12.9 mg per cigarette.

Nicotine Yield of Cigarettes

However, most of the nicotine in a cigarette isn’t delivered to the smoker. The “nicotine yield” of cigarettes is around 0.95 mg, and this figure hasn’t changed in a while. So if you want to know how many mg of nicotine in a cigarette, the most relevant answer to smokers and vapers is 0.95 mg, or about 1 mg. However, there is actually about 12 mg of tobacco in the cigarette itself, you just only get a small fraction of that when you smoke it.

How Much Nicotine is in a Pack of Cigarettes?

Based on the above, we can estimate that there is about 240 mg of nicotine in a whole pack of cigarettes, and about 20 mg of this is delivered to the smoker when he or she smokes the pack. For most smokers, this is about the amount of nicotine you’ll inhale over a day of smoking.

How Much of the Nicotine Do Smokers Absorb?

Although splitting the nicotine content into the amount actually in the tobacco and the amount delivered to the smoker may seem complicated enough already, it’s even more complicated than that.

The “yield” just tells you how much nicotine is in the smoke from one cigarette, but what actually affects the smoker is the amount of nicotine that ends up in his or her blood. This can vary quite a lot, but in general, smoking one cigarette leads to blood-nicotine concentrations of between 15 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter of blood) and 20 ng/ml, depending on which study you base the estimate on (examples here and here).

What’s the Nicotine Content of E-Liquid?

For e-liquid and vaping, the situation is very similar but we don’t have anywhere near as much information to work with. The main thing that’s missing is a clear indication of the “yield” when you vape some e-juice. However, we do have a bit of evidence on this which can be used to make a comparison with smoking.

E-Liquid Nicotine Strengths

The nicotine strength of your e-liquid tells you how much nicotine is in the juice before you vape it, and every bottle of e-liquid includes this information. The most commonly-used nicotine strengths are:

  • 0 % (0 mg/ml)
  • 0.3 % (3 mg/ml)
  • 0.6 % (6 mg/ml)
  • 1.2 % (12 mg/ml)
  • 1.8 % (18 mg/ml)
  • 2.4 % (24 mg/ml)

Using the mg/ml figure, you can easily work out how much nicotine is in a certain amount of e-liquid by multiplying the figure by the number of mls of liquid you’re interested in. This means a 15 ml bottle of 3 mg/ml e-liquid contains 3 × 15 = 45 mg of nicotine in total, and a 30 ml bottle of the same e-liquid would contain 3 × 30 = 90 mg of nicotine.

So if you fill up a 2 ml tank with 0.6 % (6 mg/ml) e-liquid, the tank contains about as much nicotine as a single cigarette. If you fill up the same tank with 1.2 % (12 mg/ml) e-liquid, in contains as much nicotine as two cigarettes, and if you fill up with 1.8 % (18 mg/ml) e-liquid, it contains as much as three cigarettes.

E-Cigarette Nicotine Yield

This may make you think that you’ll need to consume loads of e-juice each day in order to approach the amount of nicotine you’d get from smoking, but this isn’t the case. The key point is that the difference between the baseline quantity of nicotine and the amount delivered to the user is much bigger for cigarettes than for e-cigs.

The most useful study for comparing nicotine yields from cigarettes and cigarettes was conducted by prolific vaping researcher Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, who compared first-generation e-cigarettes with more modern devices using a 2 % (20 mg/ml) nicotine e-liquid and a realistic puffing pattern. The results showed that after 20 puffs, the earlier-style devices (cigalikes) delivered about as much nicotine to the vapor as cigarettes do to smoke (which is around 2 mg when using an “intense” puffing schedule), and higher-quality devices (like the Kanger Subtank paired with a VW mod) offered much higher levels, with the highest being almost 5 times as much as the tobacco cigarette.

This study generally suggests that you’ll inhale about as much nicotine from 20 puffs of an early e-cigarette as you would from a cigarette when using a 2 % nicotine e-juice. For sub ohm tanks with variable wattage mods, the nicotine yield is even greater, and much more than when you use a tobacco cigarette for 20 puffs.

This tells us two things. Firstly, higher-quality e-cigarettes deliver more nicotine than lower quality ones, and secondly, higher wattages deliver more nicotine than lower wattages. There are still a lot of gaps to fill in – for example, few vapers use 1.8 % nicotine e-liquids with higher-end tanks, so how much would be provided by lower nicotine juices? – but this is about as close as we can get to finding out the yield of nicotine from e-cigarettes.

Compared to how much nicotine is in a cigarette (or, more importantly, the smoke it produces), this would suggest that you only have to vape for as long as you’d smoke as long as your nicotine level is high enough. But other research suggests there are problems with that.

How Much of the Nicotine Do Vapers Absorb?

As before, the really important thing is how much nicotine actually reaches the vaper’s blood. And this is where the difference between vaping and smoking really starts to open up. We don’t have hugely up-to-date evidence on this, but the studies we do have suggest that you absorb a lot less nicotine when you vape.

The reason for this is that smoke particles deliver nicotine directly to the lungs, but a lot of (if not most) of the nicotine you absorb from vaping is actually through the lining of your upper throat and mouth (this is covered in the Royal College of Physician’s report on vaping, if you’re interested). This is less effective, and is much like the way the nicotine in nicotine gum is absorbed.

So when Dr. Farsalinos conducted a study looking at the blood nicotine levels obtained from vaping, he found that levels rose more slowly than for tobacco cigarettes. In the study, he used a 1.8 % nicotine e-liquid and got volunteers to vape it either using a first-generation cigalike or an eVic at 9 W. Those vaping using the cigalike didn’t get a cigarette-like amount of nicotine in their blood after the whole 65 minutes of vaping, but those using the eVic did so after about 35 minutes. This is compared to smoking for just 5 minutes.

All of this leads to the conclusion that even if there is as much (or even more) nicotine in vapor than in smoke, we don’t absorb it as well from vapor in comparison to smoke. As with the study looking at the amount of nicotine making it’s way to the vapor, you’d expect that more modern devices vaped at higher wattages would improve things, but the same basic conclusion is likely to hold.

The upshot is that you’ll need to vape a lot longer than you’d have had to smoke to get enough nicotine. If we assume that newer devices are about twice as effective at getting you nicotine as older models, then it would still take about 17 minutes to get as much nicotine in your blood as you would from smoking. This may be an overestimate or it may be an underestimate, but such educated guesses are the best we can do at present.

Cigarette to E-Cigarette Conversions: How Much E-Juice Will I Use?

If you’re trying to find out how many mg of nicotine is in one cigarette for the purposes of predicting how much you need to vape, hopefully this post has made it clear that it’s really very hard to do the sort of firm conversion you may be hoping for.

But there is a reason that just-switching smokers are generally recommended to start at 1.8 %. As the studies we spoke about show, this should get about as much nicotine into the vapor as a cigarette would into the smoke (or possibly more), and with a modern device we can assume you’ll feel satisfied after 10 to 15 minutes of use.

The only problem is that modern devices deliver so much nicotine that it may be a little unpleasant to vape a high-nicotine juice, so you’ll probably have to drop down to 1.2 % or 0.6 % if you’re using a sub ohm tank. In these cases, you’ll have to vape for a bit longer, but it’s worth it if the higher nicotine levels are too harsh on your throat to use.

The amount of e-liquid you’ll use very much depends on your device, the nicotine level you can cope with and your usage habits. We’d recommend overestimating if you’re trying to plan ahead, but a good general assumption is that you’ll use around 5 ml per day or more. If you’re using a higher nicotine level, 5 ml (or possibly less) will probably be more accurate, but for lower nicotine levels it could easily reach 10 ml or more.

Conclusion – We Know How Much Nicotine Smokers Get, But Not Vapers

The upshot is that we can answer the question of how much nicotine is in a cigarette comprehensively. With about 12 mg in the tobacco rod itself, about 1 mg making it’s way into the smoke and smokers getting blood nicotine levels of between 15 and 20 ng/ml, it’s very clear-cut. For vaping, there’s much more variation (depending on your e-liquid and device), and we have much less data to work with, so we can only really guess when it comes to estimating how much you’ll need to vape.

The best advice is to start at 1.8 % nicotine if you’re using an eGo or cigalike device, and 1.2 % if you’re using a mod with a modern atomizer, and then vape as much as you need to in order to feel satisfied. It might not be easy to plan ahead, but hopefully you’ll accomplish what matters: cutting down or quitting smoking.

Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

Writer at Black Note
Lee is a writer, vaper and tea-junkie from the UK. He quit smoking (without intending to) when he started vaping in 2012, and now writes for EcigaretteReviewed and E-Cigarette Direct's Ashtray Blog. He's always searching for a new all-day vape, loves rebuilding and is passionate about providing smokers with accurate information about the harm reduction potential of vaping.
Lee Johnson

Written by Lee Johnson

Lee is a writer, vaper and tea-junkie from the UK. He quit smoking (without intending to) when he started vaping in 2012, and now writes for EcigaretteReviewed and E-Cigarette Direct's Ashtray Blog. He's always searching for a new all-day vape, loves rebuilding and is passionate about providing smokers with accurate information about the harm reduction potential of vaping.

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What is E-Juice?

E-juice, also known as e-liquid or vaping liquid, is the liquid that’s placed in the vaping device and subsequently atomized into vapor. When you go to buy e-juice, you’ll notice it contains a mix of several ingredients. These typically include vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), some type of flavoring, and nicotine.

VG and PG form the base of the e-liquid. VG is a component used in food and personal care products; its role in e-liquid is to create a thick, dense vapor. PG is another popular solvent used in a variety of everyday items. It carries the e-liquid flavor, provides the “throat hit,” and enhances the vaping liquid’s ability to soak into wicks or cartomizer materials.

Nicotine is an optional ingredient, often available in different levels. E-juice also contains some type of flavoring.

Black Note leads the pack of tobacco vaping liquid by using only natural flavoring – extract from real tobacco leaves to produce real tobacco taste. When you go to buy e-juice from other companies, you may find any number of chemicals used to create synthetic flavors that include fake strawberry, manufactured vanilla, and even man-made tobacco flavors.

If your aim when you buy e-liquid is to experience the subtle nuances, genuine flair and authentic taste of real tobacco, then you’ll be on the mark if you buy e-juice from the Black Note lineup.

Best E-Juice

When you’re going to buy e-liquid, it’s only natural you’ll want the best e-liquid. But what, exactly, does it “best e-juice” mean? We’ll tell you.

For starters, you’ll want an e-juice that doesn’t contain all kinds of strange chemicals and concoctions that you can’t even pronounce. True, even the best e-liquid will contain vegetable glycerin (VG) and proplene glycol (PG), which serve as the base of e-juice, but you don’t necessarily need a host of other chemical compounds.

The best e-juice will stick to natural ingredients, like real tobacco extract, rather than rely on synthetic flavorings, colorings and other additives. Diacetyl is one of those synthetic ingredients that has gotten a pretty bad rap, although its use is not all that uncommon for producing sweet e juice flavors.

Definitely read the ingredient list before you buy e-juice to ensure you recognize what’s on it. Better yet, see if the e-juice company offers a lab report to confirm what’s actually inside the e-liquid.

In addition to having as few chemical ingredients as possible, the best e-juice will have an amazing taste. For those who enjoy authenticity over imitation, the most amazing taste is the most natural taste, especially when it comes to tobacco. Since Black Note uses real extract from tobacco leaves, we not only avoid all those weird chemical flavorings, but we also produce the most authentic experience: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like tobacco.

Best E-Liquid on the Market

Anyone looking for the best e-liquid on the market need look no further than Black Note. Black Note tobacco vaping liquid ranks as the best e-juice across the board in every category, starting with the taste.

Black Note’s main claim to fame is producing a tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. That because we use real tobacco extract, not chemicals, to create the best e-juice tobacco flavor. Using extract from real tobacco leaves retains tobacco’s nuances and flavor notes, giving you the most authentic and multi-faceted tobacco experience.

In addition to being the best e-juice for tobacco taste, Black Note also has the best e-liquid manufacturing process. We spent years researching and testing various production methods, and finally landed on one that we believe is absolutely perfect.

It starts with growing carefully selected tobacco seeds, followed by an equally precise of steps that include an extensive natural extraction process. Even our bottling and packaging is done with the utmost care, using recycled and recyclable packaging materials to ensure our products are as earth-friendly as they are vapor-friendly.

One more category where Black Note ranks as the best e-liquid is with the value. Every order comes with free domestic shipping, one-to-three day domestic shipping guarantee, and a 90-day, money-back satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy for any reason, or don’t agree we’re the best e-juice on the market, send it back on us and we’ll refund your money.

Vape Juice Ingredients

Vape juice ingredients can be pretty straightforward – or not. At the very least, most vape juice contains propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and some type of flavoring. Nicotine has largely become an optional ingredient that can be included at varying levels or left out altogether.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) are usually the two main ingredients that make up the base of most vape juice.

VG is a plant-based substance with the ability to produce a dense, thick vapor. PG is an additive found in many food items and certain medicines. It carries the flavoring, provides the “throat hit” and enhances the vape juice’s ability to soak into the wicking materials.

Nicotine levels can vary, as can ingredients that make up the flavorings. The components that make up vape juice flavoring are where ingredients can get rather complicated.

Vape juice that relies on artificial flavorings can contain any number of extraneous chemicals and other additives, whatever it takes to recreate the flavor the ecig juice is going for.

Black Note uses only natural flavorings: extract from real tobacco leaves. That keeps our ingredient list incredibly simple, backed by a lab report to prove it. You won’t find any strange chemical concoctions used to produce our tobacco flavor, just real tobacco extract that delivers a real tobacco experience.

What is the Best Flavor for Ecig Juice?

From strawberry shortcake to banana rum, ecig juice comes in tons of flavors. While folks can debate and discuss all the fruity, sweet or food-like flavors all day long, the best flavor for e-cig liquid is straight-up tobacco.

Why? Vaping was originally created as an alternative for traditional cigarettes, mainly for those who enjoy the taste of tobacco. And when you can find an e-cig liquid that is able to recreate tobacco’s full-bodied yet delicate flavor notes and nuances, but without the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, then you’ve found the best ecig juice.

Recreating tobacco’s complex flavor isn’t easy, especially when it’s attempted with artificial ingredients. That’s why Black Note sticks to the real thing, extracting the essence of real tobacco leaves to flavor our vaping liquid. Not only does this avoid the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, but it also eliminates the flavoring chemicals found in many ecig juices. The end result is real tobacco taste, an authentic tobacco experience and the best flavor for ecig juice you can find.

Notice also we said the best e-cig flavor was straight-up tobacco, not plain old tobacco. Black Note’s real tobacco vaping liquid happens to come in a variety of different blends, from the light and airy to the peppery and robust. Not all tobacco is created equal, and different blends capture the specialized subtleties that make each tobacco unique.

Best Sweet Tobacco E-Juice

When it comes to sweet tobacco e-juice, your options can be broken down into two categories.

The first category contains tobacco e-juice that overlays the tobacco flavor with artificial chocolate, caramel, vanilla, fruity or other dessert-like flavorings. We wouldn’t classify any such flavors as the best tobacco e liquid, simply because they typically use chemicals and other artificial ingredients to create the tobacco taste, the sweet taste, or both.

The second category of sweet tobacco e-juice is where you’ll find the best tobacco e-liquid, sweet or otherwise. This category contains vaping liquid created using only natural flavorings, which is exactly where Black Note fits in. Instead of concocting flavors using synthetic ingredients, Black Note uses an extensive extraction process that slowly and deliberately extracts the tobacco essence from real tobacco leaves.

The result is the best tobacco e-juice: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. And if you’re going for the best sweet tobacco e liquid, we have a few tobacco blends that offer varying levels of sweetness.

Prelude is our sweetest tobacco e-liquid, containing golden Virginia tobacco. Made from fire-cured dark Virginia tobacco, Sonata is our Cavendish blend with a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Solo is our menthol blend, giving you a semi-sweet minty taste created from natural menthol crystals extract from dried mint leaves.

For the best tobacco e-liquid that’s naturally sweet and remarkably delicious, Black Note is at your service.

WARNING: Black Note products are not smoking cessation products and have not been tested as such. Black Note products are intended for use by adults of legal smoking age (21 or older in California), and not by children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Black Note products contain nicotine, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Ingestion of the non-vaporized concentrated ingredients can be poisonous. Keep out of reach of children and pets. For immediate advice, contact poison control center: (800) 222-1222