/How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette?
How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette? 2018-03-05T10:57:49+00:00

How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette?

A lot has been said about how dangerous cigarette smoking is. We all know, or should know,that there are plenty of toxins inside tobacco cigarettes, including tar, ammonia, carbon monoxide and plenty more. But the one ingredient that usually gets the most lambasting is nicotine. Now nicotine may not be as harmful as all those other chemicals when you are considering just the physical implications. But when you get into what it does, which is cause addition, it is by far the most dangerous.


You can try to control your smoking all you want and even attempt to quit. But as long as your body and brain are craving nicotine, then you are going to have a very tough time. It is the same problem all drug users experience. They know what they are using is bad for them, but there is an addictive quality there that makes it difficult to stop doing it. It is a compulsion that is hard to break.

Now in general, the more nicotine there is in a cigarette, the more addictive that cigarette will be. That is why it is so important to understand how much nicotine you are taking into your system.

The Average Nicotine Content

With all that in mind, let’s look at how much nicotine the average cigarette contains. Now 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.

It’s not even fair to say that they all average so much nicotine. 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.


It is also important to note that at least a few of them are reaching as high as 20 mg or more. You cannot just look at an average and apply it to what you are smoking. Your cigarette of choice could be much different than the national average.

What You Are Actually Taking In

Now you aren’t usually taking in all those milligrams of nicotine. It isn’t like you are ingesting the entire cigarette or keeping all the nicotine inside. You exhale a large portion of that, and your body doesn’t assimilate and absorb all the nicotine you inhale.

Once again, we have to refer to an imperfect average that doesn’t paint the whole, true picture. On average, a smoker would actually absorb into their body about 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette.

Now this is going to vary from cigarette to cigarette as well as from person to person. Not everyone is going to absorb the same amounts or smoke in the same way. A lot of different factors determine how much nicotine you are taking in, and they range from the environment in which you smoke to your emotional state when you smoke. That last one may seem odd, but many people actually inhale cigarettes differently based on their mood.

Not Everyone Is the Same

We just mentioned that not everyone is going to absorb nicotine in the same way or at the same rate. But there are other factors that determine just how much damage nicotine does. You see, even if you absorb just as much nicotine as the next person, the effect that same amount of nicotine has on you may be quite different from the effect it has on someone else.

That is because everyone’s body is different. People with a lot of mass or healthy immune systems are not going to be as affected by nicotine as people who are small or frail. That’s when analyzing nicotine content in cigarettes and their effects on people does not give you the same answers every time.

For some people,a single cigarette is enough to form an addiction that will last for a lifetime.For others, it may take most of a pack to form that same addiction.

So we can’t say that a certain amount of nicotine will cause addiction or create a negative effect for someone. But we can say that nicotine is harmful and that at some point it leads to addiction. Once that addiction is in place, it takes varying amounts of nicotine to keep a foothold on the brain and keep the addiction going strong.


  1. Fred
    Fred December 7, 2017 at 7:57 am - Reply

    I’ve been smoking an average of 1 pack a day for the last 50 years. I am now 64 y.o. I started smoking when i was 14 years old. I estimated my consuming of 20 sticks a day for 365 days multiplied that by 50 which is fifty years and the result was 365,000 sticks in 50 years. Now let’s say my body is absorbing just 1 mg of nicotine per stick, that totals 365,000 mg inside my body. The doctor who said i have to stop smoking is already dead.

    • Alex
      Alex May 10, 2018 at 12:27 am - Reply

      Honey, nicotine leaves the body, the only reason you kept smoking was because the nicotine from the previous cigarette needed to be replaced. You don’t HAVE 365.000 mg of nicotine in your body, the lethal amount is aprox. 60mg, which means, you would have died more than 6000 times already if it didn’t leave the body.

  2. amy jacobs
    amy jacobs March 4, 2018 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Thank u

  3. Allison zam
    Allison zam March 4, 2018 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    My husband and I are so very concerned about the sudden obsession with vaping among our teens. We realized that the Interest stems from the nicotene content. 50mg is popular! We are wondering if there is a source that can tell us how to know how much compares to a cigarette and exactly what are the risks and adverse effects on an adolescent brain and body. Do you know of a source where this iformation can be found?

    • Brian
      Brian May 13, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      That’s likely a Juul. Each “pod” is basically the nicotine equivalent of a pack of smokes and has approximately 50mg of nicotine per ml. There aren’t any adverse effects other than becoming addicted, though. It’s a much better alternative to smoking. The tobacco industry wants you to think this is some terrible new epidemic, but it’s really just a transition from what used to be a smoking epidemic. When I was in high school just 10 years ago there were just as many of us smoking, now they’re vaping. I’d say they’re likely getting more nicotine since it’s more common for a teenager to vape a pod a day than smoke a pack a day, but I’d also argue that it’s a positive trade off since it’s not causing the health issues associated with smoking. It’s really nothing to be alarmed about, teens will be teens and they’re going to rebel and do things that are marketed to adults only, because they’re becoming adults and it’s “cool” to do adult things.

      Vaping is often treated as a double edged sword, good for adults who want to quit smoking but bad because teens who don’t smoke start doing it. Well, those teens who “don’t smoke” would have started smoking instead of vaping in a time not very long ago. Most smokers also started off as teens who didn’t smoke. If they decide the addiction is controlling their lives it’s also a lot easier to wean off the nicotine through vaping with all the control you have in nicotine amounts and power. It’s a positive transition on all levels, don’t let the propaganda scare you.

    • Michael
      Michael May 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Google popcorn lung.

  4. Joe shmow
    Joe shmow May 6, 2018 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    4th. day of trying to quit , on step 1 ( 21mg.) Nicotine patches, and (4mg.) gum. I was a pack a day (+) on some days smoker. Thanks for the information. I smoked for 17 years, now on average that is $4,000.00 a year. Please do the math on what else you can buy healthier than cigarettes with that amount of money. Maybe even think about investing that amount of money for the added years on your life, with family and friends. Just a thought though.

  5. Jake
    Jake May 7, 2018 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Allison, your kids are going to get hooked on nicotine. That said, some people seem to find it easy to quit, others not. I am one who can not quit. But I have found a way of using mouth-freshener spray with nicotine added and one squirt is equivalent to a cigarette. So my situation is at least amicable.

  6. Karen Anderson
    Karen Anderson May 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Vaping, I feel, is much less harmful. I don’t want to see any teen start smoking or vaping. Both addictive. But the chemicals in tobacco are scary. My kids started smoking at 14, behind my back. They now REGRET it. They are 37 and 39 and can’t quit. Tried every method. I think they could quit if they just toughed it out. But the younger you start….the harder it is to quit.

  7. Rhonda g McCray
    Rhonda g McCray May 15, 2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

    I just started vaping 3mg nicotine but i smoked 1 plus full flavor cigs a day im finding it not the same as smoking i still crave the cigs

    • ae
      ae May 18, 2018 at 5:07 am - Reply

      Full flavor has 24 mg approximately. Vaping 3 mg is not sufficient. However, I suggest you also look for nicotine gum or patch to increase nicotine level instead of increasing vaping dose. nicotine gum 2 and 4 mg will help you to not craving too much. Vaping 3 mg will help in term of behaviour addiction. Do two of them together.

  8. Dawn
    Dawn May 19, 2018 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Vaping does work I started out with 18 mg I went down to 3 in the past 6 months and now I’m vaping 0.
    Just want to let everyone know if you really want to stop you have to have it in your heart mind and soul that that’s what you’re going to do. By the grace of God I’ve done this for at least a week so far.

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