In the futuristic TV show the Orville, a team comprising of aliens and humans encounter a time capsule from 2015 containing several brands – one of them being a packet of cigarettes. The tobacco smell from these cigarettes attracts the attention of the alien Bortus who after smoking one of them, develops an addiction and orders 500 more packets. He gets to smoking everywhere in the ship, making a mess until a visit to the Dr Reveals that his physiology is highly susceptible to nicotine.
And though it’s just a TV episode, it works well to point out what we’ve known all along: Everyone tolerates nicotine differently. Some people form addiction only after smoking a single cigarette while others can blast through packets of cigarettes without developing an addiction. When it comes to nicotine, therefore, staying conscious of your consumption habits is vital. Too much nicotine is addictive and has nausea, headache, vomiting, and seizure consequences. But things get murky when it comes to smoking; how do you keep tabs with how much nicotine is in a cigarette?
Breakdown of Nicotine Content in Various Cigarette Brands
- An average unlit cigar contains 7.5-13.4mg of nicotine
- Cigarettes from the Newport brand have the most nicotine potential at 13.4mg per cigar.
- A Marlboro red cigarette contains 10.9mg nicotine content
- An average pack of cigarettes contains 204mg of nicotine (20 cigarettes x 10.2mg)
These are the numbers from a report of the Penn State University Behavioural Endocrinology Laboratory research. The research shows that the median nicotine content in all cigarette brands is 10.2mg with the Newport brand containing nicotine amounts on the upper side of the bracket. An average pack of cigarette, therefore, contains about 204mg of nicotine with brands like the Newport surpassing this content significantly.
But the nicotine strength of the cigarette or your favorite vape juice is not a big issue. Instead the most efficient application method of tobacco is. Is it more effective to smoke or vape it? And just how much nicotine is absorbed when you smoke a cigarette?
Nicotine Delivery and Absorption
Research shows that nicotine delivery and its absorption into the bloodstream differs depending on how the tobacco is consumed. The vapers or smokers will never absorb all the nicotine content because of factors such as:
- Different smoking styles
- Different amount of puffs taken each time
- Different cigarette burning lengths between each puff
Generally, therefore, the smoker’s body absorbs approximately 2mg of nicotine giving rise to 0.03mg/L mean arterial plasma concentrations, says Prof. Bernd Mayer. Mayer is a leading authority on nicotine and a member of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department at Karl-Franzen’s University Gras.
But his number is not final, other researchers have got slightly different answers. Prof Arthur Brody of UCLA, for example, puts the absorption at 1.2-1.4mg per cigar.
But in general, the conclusion is the same. Cigarettes deliver a lot less nicotine than what they truly contain.
Which Is the Right Nicotine Level for You?
Nicotine is Nicotine, right? So, there’s no difference if you smoke more or less often, a little or more, slower or faster, right?
Well, if you believe that, then you’re in for some rude awakening. Nicotine is an addictive substance with consequences such as seizures, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting if you take it in high doses. You must find out what nicotine amount is best for your health.
The most effective way to determine the proper nicotine intake for your body is to practice a self-titration in that as soon as you start feeling side effects and you pause for a moment. Side effects are warning the brain to tell you whether the body has had enough or needs more. The critical thing to note with self-titration is:
Everyone has a different nicotine tolerance
Try to be conscious of your consumption habits and don’t copy what others do. Not everyone absorbs nicotine in the same way or rate. Some people develop addiction only after smoking a single cigarette while others can put away packets and packets before they develop a habit.
The reason for this is because the body mass and immune system differ. For the weak and frail, substantial nicotine doses can result in shocks in the brain, addiction, and other health effects. That’s why you’ve got to keep yourself in check through self-titration.
Cigar vs Cigarettes
Both cigars and cigarettes contain tobacco; the only difference is how it’s wrapped. In cigars, leaf tobacco is used to wrap the tobacco while in cigarettes it’s covered in special tobacco-less papers mostly.
Cigars are also bigger and thicker, contain more tobacco, and can be smoked for longer than cigarettes. According to CDC research, cigars have got the following statistics:
- Large cigars: 15.4mg nicotine per tobacco gram
- Cigarillos: 13mg per tobacco gram nicotine
- Little cigars: 12mg/g
- Mini-cigarillos: 12,5mg per gram
- Pipe tobacco cigars contain 8.79mg per gram
Cigars, however, don’t deliver nicotine effectively as cigar smokers don’t inhale deeply as cigarette smokers. Cigarettes are also treated with ammonia to enhance their addictive power as compared to cigars. However, cigars are addictive too to some point. But generally, no nicotine application mechanism conquers the addictive potential of cigarettes!
Smoking Nicotine vs Vaping Nicotine-Containing E-Juices
With the vaping scene being in the formative stage now, it’s socially acceptable to transition from traditional tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes. It’s been deemed the safest way to consume tobacco and helps quit bad smoking habits. But just how is vaping significantly different from smoking?
The nicotine in traditional tobacco cigarettes is usually enhanced using additives such as ammonia to boost the cigarettes addiction power. E-cigs, on the other hand, utilize e-liquids comprising of water, nicotine, PG, VG, and flavoring.
- The consequence is that nicotine strength per puff is less for vapers than smokers.
Effects on the Brain
The ammonia in traditional cigarettes helps create a freebase nicotine form that’s more potent. The cigarette smoke also produces monoamine oxidase inhibitors that reinforce the effects of nicotine on the brain. Vape juices lack these chemicals, and the nicotine strength labeled is what you get.
- The consequence is that tobacco cigarettes are more addictive with great throat hits. Vape juices, on the other hand, contain known nicotine strengths and make self-titration easier.
How Much Vaping Equals One Cigarette?
There’s no accurate measure to establish this comparison. Nicotine delivery and absorption into the bloodstream differ depending on how it’s consumed. The nicotine dosage in vape juice is usually measured in milligrams (mg). The current industry standards of nicotine in vape juice are 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, and 12mg of nicotine per ml of vape juice.
However, vaping is not an efficient nicotine delivery mechanism, as traditional cigarettes contain additives that enhance nicotine absorption. The body also treats smoke and vape molecules differently, so it’s hard to compare the nicotine intake from these two mechanisms.
It’s therefore hard to tell how much vaping equals one cigarette. But also, every smoker knows, that there is a whole range of cigarettes available on the market, as such, we will consider an average cigarette herein, which contains about 8 mg of nic, but you inhale only 1mg of that, which is known as the nicotine strength of cigarettes ( the amount of the nicotine actually absorbed by the body).
A teaspoon of 12mg/mL e-liquid is equal to about 60 traditional cigarettes or even more, as vapes have higher efficiency.
Why Is Vaping Safer?
- You can pick nicotine levels as you desire.
- PG is a safe petroleum product and gives a throat hit that’s similar to smoking.
- VG is a natural vegetable chemical
- Flavors make e-juices more desirable
Which Vape Juice Strength to Choose
Here’s a guideline of various nicotine strengths compared to smoking tobacco cigarettes:
- 0mg is suitable for those who want to stop nicotine dependency
- 3mg is good if you’re a light smoker
- 6mg is ideal for moderate smokers who like light cigarettes
- 6mg+ is for those who prefer unfiltered cigarettes.
What If Cigarettes Had No Nicotine?
While there are no nicotine-free traditional cigarettes yet, things are about to change as the idea of putting cigarettes with no nicotine on the market is being floated around by the FDA. There’s ongoing research to reduce the nicotine strength in cigarettes. This is in the effort to make cigarettes non-addictive.
The theory is that when both alternatives, the high nicotine cigs, and the nicotine-free cigs are put in the market, smokers would consciously make the shift to the low-risk alternative. Those who champion this plan say that it will also help new smokers not to become addicts.
Lowering the nicotine strength in tobacco cigarettes is not a new idea. However, since 1994, tobacco control scientists have been toying with the idea. But for this plan to be implemented in the society, large scale clinical trials on the Very Low Nicotine Cigarettes (VLNC’s) have to be carried out to show the success of the so-called reduced-nicotine cigarettes. It’s also going to need proper regulation to stop the sale of nicotine-filled cigarettes in the black market.