Electronic cigarette companies make quite a few claims regarding the advantages of a vaporized nicotine delivery system over traditional cigarette smoking, and while hardcore smokers aren’t likely to budge regarding that burning tobacco flavor, one of the most interesting claims that e-cig companies make is that using an electronic cigarette to get your nicotine fix will save you money.
For the skeptic, it’s hard to believe that switching to an electronic cigarette could be a cost savings move, especially when starter kits can set you back as much as $100.
After all, how could involving technology in smoking make it cheaper?
Here’s a bit of math to try and help settle the debate regarding the costs of electronic cigarettes compared to traditional cigarettes — and don’t worry, varying pack use will be taken into consideration.
A pack of cigarettes can cost anywhere from around $3.00 to $14.00 depending on where you live and what brand you smoke. How much you spend as a smoker also depends also on how often you smoke.
Obviously, in order to give you the best indication of whether or not electronic cigarettes can save you money, it’s going to be necessary to ballpark some costs, but we’ll aim a little low on the traditional cigarette end of the equation so that electronic cigarettes have a slight monetary disadvantage in our equation.
How Much Smoking Costs
Let’s start with an assumption of a cost of $5.00 per pack when we’re calculating the cost of traditional cigarettes. Again, keep in mind that the cost may be radically higher per pack.
From here, let’s break our $5.00 per pack smoker into three different categories of use:
- A light smoker, who smokes half a pack a day
- A moderate smoker who smokes a pack a day
- A heavy smoker who smokes two packs a day
From here, we can see that a traditional cigarette smoker in these categories will spend $2.50 per day; $5.00 per day; and $10.00 per day, respectively.
Over the course of a year, that’s going to translate into $912.50 per year for the light smoker; $1,825 per year for the moderate smoker; and $3,650 per year for the heavy smoker.
How Much Vaping Costs
Now, let’s head over to electronic cigarette cost territory. Let’s assume the starter kit costs $100, even though many only cost in the $40-$60 range. The average e-cigarette cartridge has the nicotine equivalent of roughly 15 cigarettes, and each cartridge costs on average $2.50.
For a light smoker smoking 10 cigarettes per day, one cartridge will last a day and a half, which means that over the course of a year, the money spent on cartridges by a light smoker will be around $608.
Even when you add the $100 starter kit to that amount and bring the total up to $708 per year, the light smoker will save $204.50 by switching to e-cigarettes.
For a moderate smoker who smokes a pack a day, one and a quarter of a cartridge will have to be consumed daily to get the same amount of nicotine.
Over the course of a year, a moderate smoker will spend just over $1140 on cartridges. Again, even when you add the $100 starter kit, the moderate smoker will save $585 per year by using electronic cigarettes.
For the heavy smoker, the savings are greatest. A two pack-a-day habit will require two and a half cartridges per day. In a year, the heavy smoker who gets his nicotine through vapor will spend $2280 on cartridges.
Add the $100 to start, and a two pack-a-day smoker is still looking at an annual cost savings of $1270.
Keep in mind that if your cigarettes cost more than $5.00 per pack, your cost savings when you switch to e-cigarettes will be higher than these numbers show.
The Unknown Future
It’s hard to know how regulatory changes will influence the electronic cigarette market and its costs. As of right now, the heavy taxes levied against tobacco products are not levied against e-cigarettes.
If that changes, the cost of electronic cigarette vaping will go up. As changes in technology progress however — and they most likely will — the starter kits and cartridges are likely to go down in cost, and as more and more companies enter the market, competition will most likely lower costs as well.
If you’re a cigarette smoker who keeps a close eye on your bottom line, you may want to consider getting your nicotine another way.
Electronic cigarettes can save even a moderate smoker thousands of dollars over the course of a few years. If you’d like to have a little more money, it might be time to invest in an e-cigarette.
E-cig image by Apollostowel from Flickr’s Creative Commons.