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How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette

How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette

For those who are perhaps not quite as familiar with it, nicotine is a nitrogen-containing chemical native to tobacco plants. And it is also one of the chief ingredients in cigarettes. This same highly addictive chemical is what makes it difficult for some individuals to quit smoking.

In a 2019 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers noted that about
34 million adults in the U.S. admitted to smoking cigarettes regularly. Of those, around 16 million eventually developed emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or another smoking-related disease.

It is worth noting that many of these same individuals were well aware of the devastating health consequences related to smoking but found quitting difficult due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine in cigarettes. Of course, this was not the case for everyone insofar as some individuals were able to stop smoking cigarettes by turning to "vaping" devices.

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What Are Vaping Devices?

In short, vaping devices, also known as e-cigarettes, are smoking cessation products. These alternatives to traditional cigarettes offer two benefits to those ready to give up tobacco once and for all. Firstly, they deliver a hit of nicotine that is often comparable to that of cigarettes, and secondly, they are available in full flavor, menthol, and other varieties.

Indeed, for those serious about putting cigarette smoking behind them, vaping devices are helpful. That said, there is some debate relative to just how much nicotine is in these products and how closely they mimic the cigarette smoking experience.

How Much Nicotine Is There in a Single Cigarette?

One of the things that most prospective consumers want to know before turning to a vaping device to quit smoking is how much nicotine they have compared to traditional cigarettes. And this curiosity is very much understandable given how nicotine affects the brain. The long and short of it is when an individual smokes a cigarette, nicotine gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

From there, it travels to the brain and stimulates the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. The more an individual smokes tobacco, the less intense nicotine becomes. As a result, many individuals develop a nicotine tolerance that requires them to smoke more to achieve the same pleasurable sensation.

And when they try to quit smoking, many find themselves struggling with nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms include the following:

  • - Nicotine cravings

  • - A tingling sensation in the hands and feet

  • - Profuse sweating

  • - Abdominal cramping

  • - Nausea

  • - Headaches

  • - Insomnia

  • - An inability to concentrate

  • - Feeling anxious and irritable

  • - Depression

There are many more withdrawal symptoms that come with abruptly quitting smoking. However, those enumerated in this article are among the most common. And more often than not, they are enough to cause some individuals to resume smoking even after quitting for several days or weeks.

As such, those who are ready to try vaping as a way to quit smoking will generally look for products that contain as much or more nicotine than cigarettes. In this way, they can achieve the same pleasurable sensations without exposing themselves to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other cancer-causing contaminants typical of cigarette smoke.

That said, the average unlit cigarette contains somewhere between
7.2 and 13.4 milligrams (mg) of nicotine, according to researchers with the behavioral endocrinology laboratory at Penn State University. As far as pure tobacco, the average cigarette contains 0.65 to 1 gram of these dried leaves derived from the plants in the Nicotiana genus and the Solanaceae family.


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Taking a Closer Look at Nicotine in Vaping Devices Compared to That of Traditional Cigarettes

Something that might surprise those interested in vaping devices as a smoking cessation product or merely an alternative to traditional cigarettes is that some contain far more nicotine than others. In some cases, the ratio of nicotine per volume significantly trumps that of many leading cigarette brands.

To put this into perspective, we need only compare the nicotine volume in Juul pods, for example, one of the top-selling vaping devices, to that of a few top-selling cigarettes on the market. Available data show that a single Juul pod e-liquid cartridge contains roughly 41 mg of nicotine. Meanwhile, Marlboro and Newport, two of the top-selling brands of cigarettes in America, contains between 19.4 and 20.3 mg of nicotine per cigarette.

It is also worth noting that the body does not absorb the total nicotine present in either of these two cigarettes. The same is true for many other leading cigarette brands as well. Studies show that the average uptake of nicotine from a single cigarette, regardless of what they truly contain, is about
2 mg for most smokers.

Bottom Line

All in all, vaping devices are less harmful than cigarettes. And they contain, irrespective of how much the body can actually absorb, the same or, in some cases, more nicotine than traditional cigarettes.