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Cost of Cigarettes vs Smoke Free Alternatives - 2022 Trends Report 

Pricing information is correct as at the time of publishing the 2022 Trends Report. Pricing information in this Report is not updated and may be out of date or may have changed since publication and should not be relied on for up-to-date pricing information.

Smoking isn’t cheap. The price of cigarettes continues to rise – at the start of the millennium, a pack of twenty king-size cigarettes would set a smoker back £3.67*, but in the years since the price has more than tripled. 

We’re all looking for practical ways to save money and reduce expenditure. For adult smokers who are used to keeping an eye on rising cigarette prices, the concept of cost-saving solutions to continued smoking is nothing new. In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not vaping is cheaper than smoking before exploring the range of alternatives, such as heated tobacco products.

How Much Are Cigarettes in the UK?

The cost of cigarettes in the UK usually increases year on year, with the average price of 20 cigarettes being £12.71 in 2022, according to the ONS. Generally, the cost of cigarettes increases with each UK budget. Twelve years before, in 2010, the average pack of cigarettes cost £5.90. In other words, the price has more than doubled over a decade.**

Smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes daily, at £12.71 per pack, costs £386.6 per month. If you smoke half a pack each day, it would cost you £193.30 per month. The cost of smoking 5 a day would be £96.65.*** That’s without considering the cost of accessories like lighters.  

Adult smokers across the UK are considering their finances and looking at the smoke-free alternatives out there. We carried out research using Google Search Data, and found that as cigarettes increase in price, interest in smoke-free alternatives rises simultaneously. In fact, search growth for smoke-free alternatives is now at an all-time high.

Our data collection and analysis provide insights into what these changes in search behaviour may represent, particularly regarding adult smokers' budgets and approaches to cost-saving. Over the last five years, searches for ‘cost of cigarettes’ have risen by 85%, while searches for ‘heated tobacco price’ increased by a staggering 100% since January 2022. Here’s what else we found.

Search Interest for ‘Cost of Cigarettes’ is Higher Than Ever

Google search data tells us that cost-saving is at the forefront of searchers' minds. Interest in ‘how much does a pack of cigarettes cost’ has grown exponentially, by 130% in the last six months. Another example of this is UK targeted searches for ‘cheapest cigarettes uk’, which has grown by 40% since the beginning of the year.

Cigarette Price Search Trends

Search Term Percentage Increase Period
How much does a pack of cigarettes cost? 100% 6 Months
Cheapest cigarettes UK 40% 9 Months
Cost of cigarettes 85% 5 Years


  • Search Spikes around Government Budget Announcements - A key data point is where we see an increase in search for ‘cigarette price’, which peaked in October 2021 as a response to retail price index inflation on tobacco products further to the budget of that year.

  • Interest in ‘Cheapest Cigarette Brand’  Spikes - When we look at data for 2022 alone, searches around pricing are responsible for some of the highest areas of growth. Not only are searchers looking for price information, they also want to know which brands are the cheapest. For instance, ‘what are the cheapest cigarettes uk’ has increased by 50% since January.

Ultimately, searchers want to know how much smoking is going to impact their budget, and now, more than ever, adult smokers are researching how they can switch to more effective solutions rather than continue smoking. So what does smoking currently cost the average adult user each month?

Cost of Smoke-Free Alternatives Peaks in 2022

As the price of a pack of cigarettes goes up, it’s not surprising then that searches for smoke-free alternatives are not just steadily increasing but are experiencing sizable growth rates.

  • Heated tobacco is experiencing the highest growth within the category - As adult smokers look for more cost-efficient alternatives to smoking, one of the newest smoke-free products is experiencing a surge in interest.
  • ‘Vape Price’  searches rose by 68% in the last year alone - This shows that those adults who might otherwise continue to smoke are becoming more interested to learn about the long-term costs of switching to this smoke-free alternative.

Smoke-Free Alternative Search Trends

Search Term Percentage Increase Period
Heated tobacco price 100% 6 Months
Vape price 68% 12 Months


So, could these alternatives offer a cost-effective resolution to the price changes associated with smoking?

Is Vaping Cheaper Than Smoking?

With so many options available, what is the cost of vaping in the UK? Is it cheaper than the cost of smoking? Vaping costs aren’t as straightforward as smoking. There are various products available, all with differing price tags. Adult users will find standalone e-cigarette units that only require e-liquid to function. You may also find systems that require independent components and attachments, such as coils, tanks and more.

Pod Vape vs Refillable Tank Vape Costs

Pod vapes are generally the cheaper of these two vaping systems. They could be an alternative to cigarettes at an affordable price. Getting started with a pod system typically costs around £40, including the device and pods. However, the price will vary from brand to brand. Other additional costs include batteries and e-liquids. 

With a refillable tank-based system, you may be required to replace the tank a couple of times each year. It’s usually important to replace your e-cigarette coil, too. A pack of three coils typically costs £5-10, and you may need around nine a year. In total, that is £45 (assuming you are buying at the lower £5 price point). Do not forget batteries. Typically, batteries won’t often need replacing. That’s why we have just factored one £10 battery into these calculations. 

As a result, the cost of vaping in the UK is roughly £327 per year, depending on your chosen system. Vaping for an entire year is cheaper than smoking a pack a day for a month.

‘Vape Price’  Searches Overtook Those for ‘Cigarette Price’ for The First Time in 2022

Being potentially cheaper, it may come as no surprise that data trends show adult searchers are more interested in the cost of vape devices over cigarettes. 

  • Interest in Vape Costs is 10% Higher Than Cigarettes - A case in point; the data represents this shift in search behaviour.

  • Searches for ‘is vaping expensive’ are now at their highest - Given this term’s emergence in early April 2022, the figures may suggest changes in how adult users search for information about vape cost savings.

How Much Does Heated Tobacco Cost?

Heated tobacco is another option for adult smokers comparing the cost of cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives. The recommended retail price of 20 HEETS tobacco sticks is £5.50 - less than half the price of an average pack of cigarettes. If you previously smoked a pack of cigarettes daily and then switched completely to HEETS, you could save £ 2,814.15** 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. 

So, for those considering the switch to a smoke-free alternative, what do cost savings look like when compared to smoking? Could switching to a smoke-free option be cheaper than smoking?

Save Up to £2,800 By Switching

The best thing any smoker can do is quit. For those that choose not to give up nicotine, but still want to save money, an adult smoker could save up to £2,814.15* a year by switching from smoking cigarettes to vapes, or other smoke-free alternative options - such as heated tobacco products.

Total Saving Saving per Month Saving per week
£2814.15 £234.51 £54.12


This is a sizable saving for anyone looking to reduce their spending.

For those interested to know how the three categories of smoking, vaping and heated tobacco stack up, the price saving all depends on personal usage.

Vaping vs. Smoking vs. Heated Tobacco – Costs Compared

It’s evident that of the three, smoking is the most expensive. The cost of cigarettes currently averages out at £12.71 for 20, and we can expect that to rise with each annual budget.**

Using heated tobacco at the same rate as regular cigarettes would potentially halve the cost, from over £4,000 to under £2,000. Then there’s vaping. As so many factors are involved in vaping, you may find that some months are more expensive than others. You might replace a few pieces of equipment at once, potentially costing you around £300-£400. Otherwise, you could spread these maintenance costs over the year. Altogether, the cost of vaping is typically cheaper than cigarettes. 

However, it’s important to consider that the costs of smoking, vaping and heated tobacco vary depending on usage. Costs differ from person to person. If you are an adult smoker who would otherwise continue to smoke and are interested in heated tobacco, you can try IQOS for 14 days at home. You won’t be charged if you decide to return IQOS at the end of the trial.

You can use our savings calculator to determine 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 daily. Then, let the calculator do the rest.


*Source: ONS dataset. RPI: Ave price - Cigarettes 20 king-size filter. Link: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/czmp

**Assuming average price of cigarettes at £12.71 per pack. Source: ONS dataset. Average price - Cigarettes 20 king-size filter, August 2022. Link: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/czmp

***Assuming average price of cigarettes at £12.71 per pack. Source: ONS dataset. Average price - Cigarettes 20 king-size filter, August 2022. Savings calculated using IQOS Cost Savings Calculator. Link: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/czmp https://www.iqos.com/gb/en/cost-savings-calculator.html

IQOS is not risk-free and provides nicotine, which is addictive. The best decision any adult smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine use altogether. IQOS are not alternatives to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids.


All data cited reflects search volumes taken from Google Trends and SEMrush. When ‘interest’ is mentioned, we are referring to ‘search interest’, the number or volume of searches for a particular term at a particular time period. Data reflects search trends in the UK.

Search volumes and Google Trends data were collected across August - November 2022.

Google Trends and SEMrush are publicly available and do not have restrictions on commercial use.

This article is for general information and educational purposes. Some of the information in this article is based on external, third-party sources and we make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding the accuracy, validity or completeness of such information. 

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