E-cigarettes, or vapes, are now the most popular stop smoking aid. Many smokers have quit by switching from cigarettes to vaping.
What is vaping?
A vape, also known as an e-cigarette, is an electronic device that allows you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke.
In recent years, vaping has become one of the most popular ways stop smoking as it mimics the sensation of smoking and gives the user a hit of nicotine which helps reduce cigarette cravings.
Unlike tobacco cigarettes, vapes do not burn tobacco or produce tar and carbon monoxide which are the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes that cause cancer and other illnesses. They work by heating a liquid that typically contains nicotine and flavourings.
Vape liquids come in different nicotine strengths, so you can control how much nicotine you use. Nicotine itself is not very harmful and has been used safely for many years in medicines to help people stop smoking.
Vapes should only ever be used by adult smokers wanting to quit smoking. Non-smokers should never start vaping as they contain nicotine which is an addictive substance.
Is vaping safe?
In the UK, vapes are highly regulated for safety and quality.
They’re not completely risk-free but they’re substantially less harmful when compared to smoking tobacco.
The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.
It’s rare to have a serious reaction to vaping. If you think you have had an adverse effect from using a vape or have a safety concern, you can report it via the Yellow Card Scheme website.
Vaping side effects
Common side effects of vaping include:
- coughing, dry mouth and throat
- mouth and throat irritation
- shortness of breath
If you experience side effects from vaping, get advice from a stop smoking advisor or specialist vape retailer before you decide to stop using a vape as your quit smoking tool.
Making small changes to your vape products or how you vape should help. Side effects are usually easily managed and should not stop you from vaping as a way to quit smoking.
What type of vapes are there?
There are different types of vapes and strengths of nicotine liquids. A vape specialist or stop smoking advisor can help you find the right device for you.
Is vaping harmful to others?
There’s no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you.
This is in contrast to second-hand smoke from smoking, which is known to be very harmful to health.
Vaping while pregnant
If you’re pregnant, nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum are the recommended option to help you stop smoking. But if you find using a vape helps you stay smokefree, it’s much safer for you and your baby to vape than continuing to smoke.
If you’re concerned about smoking or vaping whilst pregnant, please speak to your midwife who will give you all the support you need.
Vaping and young people
Whilst vapes can help smokers quit, it is not harmless and they should never be used by young people under 18.
It is illegal to sell nicotine vaping products to anyone under 18 or for adults to buy them on behalf of under-18s.
If you find a retailer selling either nicotine vapes or tobacco products to under-18s, you can report a retailer to local authority Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice online portal.
Ready to stop vaping?
Once you have been vaping for a while and feel sure you will not go back to smoking, you can aim to quit vaping too. Many vapers find they get to this stage after about 12 months.
There are a couple of ways to try to quit vaping:
- reduce your frequency of vaping over time
- gradually reduce the strength of nicotine in your e-liquid
Do not rush this step. Only reduce your vaping frequency or nicotine strength when you feel you will not go back to smoking and do not have to puff more to compensate.