How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette?

nicotine_into_cigA 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.

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    • Thanks so much. Am trying to quit after 57 years & an almost clean CT/Lungs. Using Vapor. Need to find the right strength. So far 12mg solution doesn’t cut it.

      • I smoked for 24 years and I with the 21 mg patch and 4 mg nicotine gum to quit. Follow the steps when using the nicotine replacement patch.

  1. Cigarettes r the worst thing u could or the worst thing for u stop making them it’s all with the government to make some new laws no cigarettes ever peace out Peter

  2. 24 yr smoker…..thanks for your data….I started weighing the pros and cons….made a decision smoking is not going to kill me…(like my mom at 46!!!)….was REALLY ready to quit….. 3 weeks now was surprising easy when you’re ready…..tired of waking up coughing!!; after 3 weeks….I can actually take a deep breath without wheezing….coughing…..!!!… Anyone that sees this….do whatever you need to do to get there…..I tried 5 times and wasn’t ready and failed within days……make it about your health….your family…..your spouse….whatever it takes…….believe me after only 3 weeks I don’t feel winded…..coughing is gone…..awesome!!! Good luck and God bless!!!!

  3. Sorry forgot to mention this important fact…..a urge to smoke….have coffee….or do drugs only lasts 3-5 seconds in your mind…..however you quit and the urge comes on you……take a deep breath and count to 5……it works……!!!!! Let that sudden urge blow away with your breath!!! ….you will beat this because if you don’t it will eventually beat you!!!! God bless!!!! Patrick

  4. Great article. I definitely agree with Patrick. Quitting is not about how strong you are, it’s about how willing you are. When you’re willing you start to look at the positive vs. the negative, the positive will always outweigh the negative. For me I want to live longer and I still have a young son to still raise, and I know his needs and wants are costing more. I also get tired of being winded when he wants me to play outside activities. I can’t remember exactly how many times I’ve tried to quit in the past but the one thing that got me on this final time of smoking is when my 6 year old asked me, “Why do you have to smoke, Mommy?” That’s a question I will never forget because it made me answer my own reality. Addiction has no good outcomes until a person decides they are tired. I’m on my 6th day, the first 3 days I think we’re the hardest but I’m doing things to try and flush all the toxins out. Cranberry juice & water I read was one of the best remedies plus it ups the immune system. When cravings come I direct my attention to anything to get my mind off of it. It only lasts for a moment and eventually it gets easier. I wish everyone the best of luck on their quit smoking journey.

  5. I was brushing my teeth and noticed a large red blood spot under my tongue. I quit that second. I did start using nicotine gum at 4 mg and it worked beautifully. in less than two weeks, the spot under my tongue was gone and remains pretty pink. Took fear to make me quit. I am so happy I saw that spot that day. Didn’t need a tongue removal surgery in my future. Lungs are getting more air now and I have more energy. It is going to be a struggle, but my commitment is firm. Best to all.

  6. I quit just today and feel much better,cravings are already pretty much gone…mind over matter,guess I don’t have a mind so it really don’t matter, not to mention I have 3 teens and a grand baby on the way and when my boys asked me to quit and told me how it made them feel and how it made everything stink…it put the urge to quit in a much stronger ability to do so… want to be here for them as long as possible as both parents are deceased and not able to meet their first great grand baby because of health issues from their smoking …. don’t want the same happening to myself…anyone that is “READY” can do it…key word is “Ready”’s to short , enjoy it while ya can! Best wishes to everyone!

  7. I’ve smoked 40+years, 4 packs a day for 25 years. Now that I have proved second hand smoke won’t kill you I’m trying to quit. I’m wearing the 21mg patch and chewing the 4mg gum I’m still having a hard. I’m really mean in the mornings when I get up and still having bad cravings. Any ideas?

    • I use chantix and quit 8 days ago. I never want to smoke again. .it makes it easier to quit with no withdrawal symptoms. Helps you to wean off them easily. I had no side effects from chantix.

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