Most electronic cigarettes are available with cartridges with differing amounts of nicotine. When first starting on electronic cigarettes, many users wonder what level of nicotine they should opt for with their cartridges. The answer to that question varies depending on how much you currently smoke tobacco cigarettes. Also, it should be noted that electronic cigarettes cartridges are designed to last the equivalent of multiple cigarettes and are not meant to be smoked completely in one sitting.
Traditional tobacco cigarettes have varying nicotine contents depending on the brand. Nicotine contents of tobacco cigarettes have trended down over the past 30 years from an average of 1.35 mg per cigarette in 1968 to an average of 0.90 mg per cigarette in 1994. Per brand breakdowns are as follows and are based on a study done by the United States Federal Trade Commission on1206 varieties of domestic cigarettes between the years 1994 and 1997:
Most electronic cigarette cartridges are available in 4 different nicotine strengths: 1) Full flavor 2) Medium 3) Light 4) Nicotine free. Each brand varies, but most are close to the following numbers:
As you can see, electronic cigarette cartridges contain much higher amounts of nicotine because they are not meant to be smoked completely in one sitting. Which nicotine level you choose depends on your personal preference and how you foresee smoking the eCigarette.
According to BluCigs FAQ, their cartridges last approximately 60-80 puffs, which they place as being about the equivalent of 6 traditional cigarettes. That said, if you’re not sure what to purchase, most people find that full flavor (or full strength) works well if they smoked full-strength tobacco cigarettes, such as Marlboro Reds, medium strength (12 – 16 mg) is adequate for smokers used to light cigarettes such as Marlboro Lights, and light strength (4 – 8 mg) is adequate for smokers used to ultra light cigarettes or occasional smokers. And nicotine-free are useful for those looking to quit smoking altogether without giving up the habit of smoking right away.
In practice, you can smoke an electronic cigarette as long or as short as you want. So, perhaps the more pertinent question to ask is not how much nicotine each cartridge contains, but rather how you plan to smoke your electronic cigarette. Personally, I smoked Parliament Lights and found the medium strength cartridges (12 – 16 mg) allowed me to smoke for the same amount of time I would with a tobacco cigarette and get the same feeling. I’ve heard from others who used to smoke full-strength cigarettes, such as Marlboro Reds, that the full-strength cartridges are more akin to what they’re used to.
However, if I was looking to spend less time smoking without sacrificing nicotine, I could have purchased full-strength cartridges and only taken a couple of hits during each smoke break. Because electronic cigarette cartridges are not designed to be finished in one sitting, and you don’t have to worry about finishing a full cigarette during each break, you can get a higher nicotine content cartridge and smoke less than you did with tobacco cigarettes and get the same satisfaction.
Ultimately, the answer to the question of which cartridge strength to purchase depends on how you plan to smoke your electronic cigarette. If you plan to smoke the same amount as tobacco cigarettes, you should follow this general guideline:
What you smoked in tobacco cigarettes eCig cartridge strength to buy
Full strength (such as Marlboro Red) Full strength (18 – 24 mg)
Light (such as Marlboro Lights) Medium strength (12 – 16 mg)
Ultra light (Such as Marlboro Ultra Lights) Light strength (4 – 8 mg)