Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-powered devices. They heat nicotine mixed with flavourings and other chemicals to create an aerosol that the user inhales.
Using an e-cigarette is known as vaping.
The best thing you can do for your health is not to smoke or vape. We offer free support and advice on options that help with nicotine withdrawal.
If you vape and smoke cigarettes
Most adults who vape also smoke cigarettes or used to smoke cigarettes.
Smoking cigarettes and vaping are both ways to inhale nicotine.
Smoking tobacco is extremely dangerous. Vaping delivers nicotine without many of the toxins in cigarettes. Compared to cigarettes, vaping may be less harmful. But vaping is not harm-free. We do not know the long-term health impact of vaping.
If you are vaping, we recommend not to smoke cigarettes at the same time. If you want to reduce harm from smoking, it's best to quit smoking for good.
Vaping to stop smoking
Most people who smoke cigarettes worry about the impact that smoking has on their health and want to stop. Some people may choose to vape to help them cut down on cigarettes. They may consider switching from cigarettes to vaping.
If you smoke and want to stop, we recommend to:
Based on what we currently know, this is the safest and most effective way to stop smoking.
We do not recommend vaping as a way to stop smoking.
There are some reasons why:
Safer options have been proven to work
Licensed medicines to stop smoking include:
These treatments have been tested over many years - they work and they are safe.
We have reviewed the studies of vaping as a stop smoking support. Compared to the options we recommend, we are not confident that vaping is a safe or effective way to stop smoking. We will continue to review new studies.
E-cigarettes are not stop smoking medicines
E-cigarettes are not licensed medicines.
Licensed stop smoking medicines go through quality and safety checks before they can be sold.
There are some regulations for e-cigarettes and vaping liquids as consumer products. But the system for licensed medicines is much stricter.
Get support to quit for good
Some people find it hard to stop smoking. We provide support options that can help.
If you are vaping as a way to help you quit smoking, you can work with a stop smoking advisor. They can give you free advice and support to quit smoking for good.
Vaping if you do not smoke cigarettes
If you have never smoked cigarettes, vaping offers no health benefit. If you do not smoke, do not start vaping.
Most vaping liquids contain nicotine. Nicotine is a dangerous and addictive chemical.
Risks of vaping
The risks and negative health effects linked with vaping include:
- nicotine dependence
- injuries - for example, from defective e-cigarette batteries
- poisoning and exposure to toxins
- changes to how your heart, lungs and other organs normally work
Over time these risks may cause diseases such as heart disease, lung disease and cancer.
Vaping liquid that does not contain nicotine often has other chemicals such as colours and flavourings. These chemicals can be harmful when you inhale them into your lungs.
We are still learning about the long-term risks of vaping. This is because e-cigarettes are relatively new compared to cigarettes. We need to review studies of people who use e-cigarettes over many years before we can know the health impact of vaping.
Young people and vaping
Vaping use in young people under the age of 18 has increased in recent years. About 1 in 5 young people say they vape.
Vaping liquids can contain high levels of nicotine. The amount of nicotine you inhale from a vape can vary. Some vape product labels do not show that they contain nicotine. Some vape liquids sold as 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.
Children and young people are more at risk of:
- developing an addiction to nicotine
- the negative effects of nicotine use on the developing brain - for example, problems with attention, learning, mood and impulse control
Many young people who vape did not smoke cigarettes before they started vaping.
But young people who vape are more likely to start smoking cigarettes than those who never vape.