E-cigarettes, for which the F.D.A. proposed new regulations Thursday, have grown in popularity in recent years thanks to the perception—true or not—that they are healthier than traditional cigarettes. But Americans have been drawn to e-cigarettes for another reason: cost. While the price of an e-cigarette starter kit can run from $40-$100, the liquid-nicotine cartridges are cheaper than tobacco cigarettes. Given the upfront cost of e-cigs, how long do you have to smoke them before saving money over traditional "cancer sticks"?
The median price of a pack of Marlboro Reds is about $6.38 in the United States, and each cigarette delivers about 1.9 milligrams of nicotine to the smoker. E-cig cartridges vary in size and cost, but a 30-milliliter cartridge typically sells for $15-20, with each milliliter of liquid delivering about six milligrams of nicotine to the smoker. That means that one milligram of nicotine costs about 15.7 cents for traditional cigarettes and only 10 cents for e-cigarettes. But that’s before taking into account the costs of the starter kit.
Assuming that an average smoker smokes 12 cigarettes a day, the following graph shows that it would take about 51 days before an e-cigarette smoker recouped his initial investment:
Danny Vinik is a staff writer at The New Republic.