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E-Cigarettes vs. Cigarettes: A Cost Analysis

Recently, there have been claims that e-cigarettes are a more expensive habit than smoking regular cigarettes. In fact, a recent study has supposedly shown that in only 3 countries are e-cigarettes actually cheaper than their combustible predecessors.

Ask some vaping aficionados and they will likely agree, there is plenty of money to be spent on e-cigarettes and their vaping accessories. Between high powered vape mods and premium e-liquids there are several ways you can easily spend a pretty penny on your vaping supplies, but does that mean that they are truly more expensive than the nasty combustible cigarette itself?


The Cost of Cigarettes

In 2015, the average price of a pack of cigarettes in America was $7.26. These prices ranged from $4.98 on average in Virginia to $13.50 in New York. This is a pretty big difference, where some places in Virginia it appears as though you can buy cigarettes for 3 times less than you can in some places in New York. That alone says there is so much variation, that you cannot make a determination on averages. So let’s look at what the cost of e-cigarettes are in general, and you can decide how they are comparable to cigarette prices where you live.


The Cost of E-Cigarettes


Disposable e-cigarettes have a tendency to be a lot of people’s first entry into e-cigarettes. They are inexpensive to get started with and they are easy to find and acquire for people who are new to the e-cigarette market. Their prices can vary, and will often lower if you can buy more than one at a time, however, a single disposable e-cig range in price from $6.00 to $12.00 apiece, and will last generally the equivalent of 2 to 3 packs of cigarettes. Since they are disposable there is no upkeep or replacement parts needed, so no extra costs will be accrued.


Cartridge Models

Cartridge models or Cig-a-Likes are rechargeable and contain pre-filled cartridges that are easy to exchange, with no need to refill. People usually buy these first in a starter kit that included charging accessories and extra batteries. That means there will be an initial start-up cost, but very little if any, additional cost other than the e-liquid cartridges themselves. Starter kits usually range around $40 to $60, but usually contain a fair supply of cartridges as well. Cartridges themselves usually cost around $2.00 to 4.00 a cartridge and come in mL levels that are usually between 1 mL and 4 mL



Once you’ve ventured into the world of refillable tanks it becomes nearly impossible to determine what the actual total cost of your e-cigarette venture would be on an average basis. With a basic vape pen style battery and tanks to highly adjustable box MOD units, and prices ranging from as little as $20 to prices in the hundreds of dollars, an average would just not give you the best idea of actual costs, especially since most vapers have more than one device they use regularly. You’ll need to factor in the cost of your device, as well as needed accessories, new coils, batteries, or replacements tanks will all be regular costs for e-cigarette users, so consider that as well.

Your basic e-liquids will vary in price, but mainly that is as a result of buying in bulk. A 10 ml contains the equivalents of about 5 packs of smokes and costs around $7.00.  A 30 mL bottle will cost around $20.00  and equals about 15 packs of cigarettes. There are premium e-juices that do cost more, but for the purposes of this analysis, we will stick with the basic e-juices and their average prices.


Savings or Not? E-Cigs vs. Cigarettes: A Cost Analysis

So let’s break this down, if you smoke cigarettes that cost the average price in America ($7.26) and you smoke a pack a day you will spend: $2,650 a year. In the lowest cost state, (Virginia $4.98) it will be $1818, in the most expensive state (New York $13.50) it will cost you $4928.

If you use disposable e-cigarettes, the average costs range from $6 to $12 dollars, if you purchase a $9 model, with each one lasting approximately 2.5 packs worth a pack a day smoker will spend $1314 a year. Meaning a savings of around $500 in the lowest costing states, about $1330 in savings for the average American cigarette cost and a savings of just over $3600 a year.

If you use Cig-A-Likes, you will want to consider the cost of cartridge replacements. Factor in the costs of any replacement batteries or accessories if needed. The cost of the cartridge replacements for Cig-a-likes varies, as all prices in the market, and you definitely get a better deal when you buy in bulk. Cartridges generally hover around $1.50 to $4.00, so an average cost cartridge of around $2.75 with a 2 mL capacity will cost you just over $1000 annually. (Subtract your device/accessory costs, if applicable, and needs from the below figure to determine actual savings). In Virginia, you will save around $800 a year, in New York, you will save almost $4000. If you pay the average cost for cigarettes in America, you will save over $1600 a year.

If you use any kind of refillable e-cigarette, you will need to consider costs of tanks, batteries, replacement coils, accessories and things of the like. These can get expensive, as any vaping enthusiast well knows. However, comparing the costs of e-juice to the equivalent cigarette amount can be done. A 10 mL bottle priced at $7.00, and lasting for the equivalent of 5 packs of cigarettes, will cost a vaper who continues a pack of day habit around $511 annual. If you invest in a 30 mL bottle for $20 that will last you around 15 packs worth, you will spend $487 annual on e-juice. What this means is if you live in the LOWEST cost state for cigarettes and buy the lower volume e-juice, you will still save around $1300 a year by vaping instead of smoking if you continue an equivalent pack a day habit. You could still spend well over a thousand dollars on vaping supplies and devices, and STILL, save money over buying cigarettes.

If a pack of smokes is closer to the national average of $7.26 where you live, then you can expect to save over $2000 a year, and still be able to buy a device as well.


The numbers that say e-cigarettes are more expensive, at least in America, are clearly not based in fact. Even with the possibility of impending excise taxes for e-cigarettes in some states, they still remain so much cheaper than regular cigarettes, the savings will be hard to deny. In addition, there is no factoring in for the health care costs that will inevitably come with long term cigarette smoking. Since many experts conclude e-cigarettes are so much safer than regular cigarettes, you can venture to guess that health care costs related to e-cigarettes will be significantly lower, and in most cases, simply won’t exist.

There are plenty of factors that play into how much vaping will cost you. In order to truly know if you are saving money, you have to be honest with yourself about how much you do spend, and how much you vape. And while the start-up cost of some of the more common e-cigarette varieties might initially throw off some potential purchases, a little investment, in the beginning, will save you a lot later, and I’m not just talking about money.


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