The Cost of Cigarettes vs Vaping vs Heated Tobacco

By Eina Panayotova



Are you thinking of vaping or using heated tobacco rather than smoking? You might be wondering what the costs are likely to be. For example, you might be aware of the cost of cigarettes, and that it tends to increase year by year, but the cost of vaping per month isn’t so widely known.

Smoking cigarettes, vaping and using heated tobacco all vary in price, and there are other factors to take into consideration, too. However, in most cases, we can calculate the rough costs reasonably accurately. Here, we take a look at the cost of vaping vs. smoking vs. using heating tobacco, comparing them to each other and seeing how much each cost, on average.

How Much Does it Cost to Smoke Cigarettes?

How much do cigarettes cost? The cost of cigarettes usually increases year on year, with the average price of 20 cigarettes being £11.18 in 2020, according to the ONS. Generally, the cost of cigarettes increases with each UK budget – in 2015, exactly five years prior, the average pack of cigarettes cost £9.01. That’s an increase of £2.17 during that time. Ten years before, in 2010, the average pack of cigarettes cost £5.90 – in other words, the price has almost doubled over the course of a decade.*

Smoking a pack of 20 every day, at £11.18 per pack, that’s a cost of £335.40 per month. If you smoke half a pack a day it would cost you £167.70 per month and the cost of smoking 5 a day would be £83.85.**

How Much Does Vaping Cost?

In some ways, vaping might not be quite as straightforward as smoking, as there are various products that’ll cost money. There are e-cigarettes that tend to be standalone units not requiring much else other than e-liquid, however some systems also need to have coils, tanks, and more. We’ve looked at cigarettes, but with so many options available, just what is the cost of vaping in the UK? When comparing the cost of vaping and the cost of smoking, the use of certain e-cigarettes tends to be cheaper***.

Vape Pod Based Systems

Pod systems are generally the cheaper of the two. They can be an alternative to cigarettes at an affordable price and work well for those who want to start vaping immediately as a replacement to cigarettes. These starter kits can set you back around £40, and a few more costs will pop up on top of that for batteries and e-liquids. Usually, these have coils, tanks and wicks built in.

Vape Tank-Based Systems

Tanks, or mod-based vapes can be built from scratch allowing users to change and customise their vaping experience and tailor it to suit their needs. Tank sizes can be changed, and battery life can be modified too.

With a tank-based system, you’ll probably need to replace the tank a couple of times each year, at about £20 a pop – that’ll be another £40. It’s important to replace your e-cigarette coil too, with a pack of three often costing around £5-10 – you’ll probably need around nine of these a year, so that’s £45 (assuming you’re buying at the lower price-point). We can’t forget about batteries either – they don’t need replacing too often, so we can just include one at £10 in our calculations.

In addition, people who vape often will be buying e-juices. While price and consumption will of course vary, a 10ml bottle could cost you around £4. People most often use anywhere from 2ml to 10ml per day, but a lot of how much liquid is used depends on how much nicotine is in the liquid and on the user’s preferences.

As a result, the cost of vaping in the UK is roughly £327 per year depending on what system you choose. Divide that by 12 and we get £27.25 per month. To get the equivalent from smoking, you’d be smoking on average fewer than two cigarettes per day. Vaping for an entire year is only slightly more expensive than smoking a pack a day for a month.

It’s important to remember that every vaper's usage of the product varies, bringing with it variable costs.

How Much Does Heated Tobacco Cost?

Heated tobacco is another option for those looking at the comparisons between the cost of vaping and smoking. The recommended retail price of 20 HEETS tobacco sticks is £5, which is less than half the price of an average pack of cigarettes. If you previously smoked a pack of cigarettes each day, and then switched completely to HEETS, you could save £2,255.70 each year. One HEETS stick lasts around the same time – 14 puffs – as a cigarette, so 20 HEETS tobacco sticks can be considered the equivalent consumption of a pack of cigarettes.

You can use our savings calculator to work out how much you could save by switching from cigarettes to IQOS. Just enter the amount you pay for a pack of cigarettes and the number of cigarettes you usually smoke in a day and let us do the rest.

Smoking vs. Vaping vs. Heated Tobacco – Costs Compared

It’s evident that of the three, smoking is the most expensive – just how much do cigarettes cost now? The cost of cigarettes currently averages out at £11.18 for 20, and we can expect that to continue to rise with each budget.****

Using heated tobacco at the same rate as regular cigarettes would potentially halve the cost, going from over £4,000 to under £2,000. Then there’s vaping. As there are so many bits and pieces involved in vaping, you may find that some months are more expensive than others if a few pieces of equipment all need to be replaced at once, but you could be spending around £300-£400 each year, which is another rather large saving, and potentially 10-15% of the price you’d pay when compared to cigarettes.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that the costs of smoking, vaping and heated tobacco vary depending on usage, so costs will differ from person to person. If you’re interested in heated tobacco, you can try IQOS for 14 days at home, and if you decide to return it at the end of the trial, you won’t be charged.

*Source: Online survey conducted by third-party research agencies in 2016 and 2017 among 3,157 IQOS users in Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Romania and Spain.

** Source: non-clinical laboratory study conducted in Switzerland with human teeth and the most widely used dental composites. Contrary to real world conditions, teeth were not exposed to other staining substances such as coffee, tea or wine, which may influence the results.

*** Source: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/9/e008547.short

****Assuming average price of cigarettes at £11.18 per pack. Source: ONS dataset. Average price - Cigarettes 20 king size filter, 2020.

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