Nicotine is an addictive stimulant that’s found in cigarettes, cigars, and most vaping products.
Different products have different levels of nicotine. The average amount of nicotine in a single cigarette is around 10 to 12 mg. This can vary widely from one brand to the next.
Besides nicotine, cigarettes contain hundreds of other substances, many of which can be harmful to your health. While e-cigarettes contain a lower number of harmful substances, they still contain chemicals that have been associated with cancer.
The nicotine levels in e-juice vary dramatically, from nicotine-free e-juice to forms comprised of potent nicotine salts that may contain up to 50 milligrams per liter or more. More commonly, vapers who are habituated to smoking will use e-juice in the range of 3 to 15 milligrams per milliliter. Heavy smokers may want to go as high as 24-milligram-per-milliliter e-juice.
This broad range of nicotine concentrations found in typical e-juice raises the question of equivalency; what concentration of nicotine in an e-juice should someone look for if they would like their vaping experience to roughly equal a given number of cigarettes? This last question turns out to be considerably difficult to answer and depends heavily on the type of vaping device that is used, the size of the draws the vaper is taking and how they normally smoked cigarettes.
But a solid rule of thumb is that a single milliliter bottle of e-juice will yield about 100 hits. In the roughest estimate, this means that one bottle of e-juice is equivalent, in terms of hits, to about five packs of cigarettes. All things being equal, the milligram-adjusted effects of nicotine released through vaping are way more intense than nicotine that is released through smoking. This is especially true for sub-Ohm vaping, where the vaporization is more complete, and most experienced cigarette smokers are content with e-juice that contains between 3 and 6 milligrams per milliliter.
As I’ve already illustrated, the levels of nicotine required for any individual smoker to get a similar vaping experience with adequate satisfaction of the nicotine cravings is an inexact science at best. The nature of vaping versus smoking is that the former involves a completely different physical process, leading to very different consumption profiles of the nicotine present. In general, vaping tends to deliver far more nicotine than smoking.
To see to what extent this is true, consider that the typical full-flavor cigarette contains around 12 milligrams of nicotine. This is as much as an entire bottle of typical e-juice! Yet, the typical smoker only takes about 10 hits off of that cigarette while they may get up to 100 hits off the bottle of e-juice. But this does not mean that the smoker is only getting 1/10th the amount of nicotine from their cigarette that they would ingest while vaping.
The reason has to do with how combustion affects the release of nicotine as well as the fact that many smokers may end up wasting a half or more of a typical cigarette just by letting it burn.
But that’s not to say that there isn’t a profound difference between smoking and vaping. The two biggest differences are large indeed. The first is that vaping is radically safer than smoking. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals and dozens of potent carcinogens, none of which vapers are ever exposed to. The second difference is that vaping is massively less expensive than smoking. Because vaping is a far more efficient means of ingesting nicotine, it is also a far cheaper way to get your nicotine fix.