Is Vaping Cheaper Than Smoking?


The Variables

One of the questions I get asked quite often by smokers looking to quit is whether vaping is actually cheaper than smoking? To begin to answer anything like that you need to know the parameters affecting the individual. How many do you smoke per day? What brand of cigarette do you smoke? Do you smoke straights or rollies? What are your social habits i.e. are you down the pub every evening waxing another box of 20. We could even look down to whether you are using a fancy refillable zippo lighter can all affect the cost your existing habit.

The same thing can be said about vaping. If you’ve read the beginner guides, you can see how complex vaping can be.

I spent about a year vaping on VIP’s Skystorm (30W Regulated Mod) with their basic tank (pre-made coils reading about 1.8Ω), a £45 piece of kit. I bought packs of 5 coils (£8) every 2 months and also using their strawberry vape 3mg (30%Vegetable Glycerin [VG] / 70% Propylene Glycol [PG]) 10ml bottles buying 3 bottles for £10 a go that would last a month. If we took a year as a span that would total £231 for the year.

Without even comparing to cigarettes you can see that’s cheaper but for the sake of argument (based on my average smoking habits): I smoked Marlboro Lights and on average I would buy 2 packs of 20 per week. I work in the City of London so the cost of cigarettes is more expensive, on average I was paying £10 per box of 20 (remember this was around 2011). Exclude social gathering (I work in world of advertising so there’s a lot of lunches and socials) that’s already £1040 for the year.

Obviously everyone is different, we say it in all our posts, but you can see immediate, it’s a dramatic cost difference.

The Maths

Here’s the catch, I don’t vape like that anymore. With my current vaping habits, I’m consuming about 8-10ml of juice daily, still 3mg of nicotine but the devices that i’m using is sucking through juice – burning at a higher rate – then it was before. I mentioned previously about the juice being 30/70 in favour of PG and that the coil I was using was reading at 1.8Ω, all of this effects how the juice is burnt and how long it last as well.

We’ll explain VG/PG in another post but basically VG is thicker, burns to create more clouds and is less harsh on your throat. PG is the opposite and has a slightly sweeter taste. You’ll hear some vapers complaining about how some juices gunk up the coils faster than others, that’s to do with the ratio and the ingredients within the juice. Sweeter tasting juices tend to gunk up faster than juices like menthol or tobacco flavours.

There’s a way to roughly calculate the cost of your vaping habits though we’ll need to make some general assumptions for the comparison. Vaping is approximately 30% as effective at giving your favoured nicotine experience assuming the average cigarette contains 1mg of nicotine (think about standing outside having 1 cigarette verses the time spent vaping).

Remember this is a rough approximate and not an exact scientific calculation – 30% goes into 100% 3.33 times, we’ll use 3.5 for the sake of argument. Take the mg (nicotine) and ml figure from your juice and multiply it by how many mls you go through in a day. Now divide that figure by 3.5 and you’ll have an approximation of the equivalent number of cigarettes you are getting.

For example: I vape on 3mg nicotine, multiplied by the average 9ml I go through a day equals 27. 27 divided by 3.5 equals approximately 8 cigarettes worth of nicotine a day.

This is roughly (if not a little less) than I used to smoke. However, now we need to take into account vape gear. Admittedly my view is skewed as I’m an enthusiast and have picked up vaping as a hobby, not everyone will be purchasing multiple atomisers, mods and building their own coils.

The Truth

Let’s take my go to daily equipment and cost that up, Dotmod Petri Lite (c£100), Dotmod Petri RTA (c£65), Sony VTC5 (c£10 pair), Framed Staple Coils (c£10 replacing every 6 months), Japanese Cotton (c£5 you got tonnes for £5, re-wick every month depending on usage).

Let’s assume a 1 year period as we did with smoking cigarettes which totals c£200 for gear alone. If I’m vaping on average 9ml a day (let’s round up to 10ml for the sake of maths) and assume I’ll vape Moku Oyatsu White Gummi’s (c£45 for 180ml) for the entire year only (perfectly acceptable) means that I’ll go through their 180ml bottle in 18 days, let’s assume half a month.

Over a year period, I would need to spend £1080 on juice alone for 1 year. Total that up with the gear and that’s £1280. If we refer back to my smoking habits, I was smoking on average £1040 for the year, so vaping is actually costing more money on an average basis, £240 more expensive by that measure. Remember this is an average and is not taking into account social habits for smoking nor does it account for trial and error purchasing of juice or equipment for vaping.

My colleague is a recently reformed smoker that switched to vaping last year. He bought himself the Smok H-Priv Mini Kit (c£50) that comes with the Brit Beast tank. He’s switched out the tank to get a Smok Baby Beast (c£25) and swaps out the coils every couple of months using the RBA (rebuildable) coil, re-wicking every week or so, let’s assume £30 for coils and cotton as a spindle of wire is actually very cheap.

He vapes on Nasty Juice Slow Blow (3mg 50ml bottles at c£17) which lasts for about 2 weeks. So that’s £442 an average year on juice with £105 on equipment, that gives us a total of £547 for a year vaping.

Here’s the other variable, he was smoking rollies, not straight cigarettes. 2 x 25 gram tobacco packs per week; including papers, filters & lighters it usually added up to around £10-£12. Let’s average to £11 x 52 weeks gives us £572 for the year. £25 saving verse smoking for the year.

Is it cheaper?

It can be, it depends on what your goal is, baring in mind the health benefits (still to be 100% proven but according to NHS studies, it is far safer verses smoking). If you’re buying every new piece of kit that comes out which cost an arm and a leg then no it’s not cheaper. If you buy a kit, quit or stay around that level yes, it’s cheaper – even compared to rollies though only marginally.

As we always say, it’s subjective, every individuals habits will skew any study or example but take an average and you’ll see whether vaping will save you money.


Use the below calculator to find out your equivalent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Lost Password