In recent years, e-cigarettes have become a very popular stop smoking aid in the UK.
Also known as vapes or e-cigs, they're far less harmful than cigarettes, and can help you quit smoking for good.
They are not recommended for non-smokers and cannot be sold to people under 18 years old.
What are e-cigarettes and how do they work?
An e-cigarette is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke.
E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco and do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke.
They work by heating a liquid (called an e-liquid) that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and flavourings.
Using an e-cigarette is known as vaping.
Will vaping help me stop smoking?
Many thousands of people in the UK have already stopped smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. There's evidence that they can be effective.
A 2021 review found people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, as well as having expert face-to-face support, can be up to twice as likely to succeed as people who used other nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum.
Using an e-cigarette can help you manage your nicotine cravings. To get the best out of it, make sure you're using it as much as you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid.
You will not get the full benefit from vaping unless you stop smoking cigarettes completely.
Getting expert help from your local Stop Smoking Service gives you the best chance of quitting smoking for good.
Find your local Stop Smoking Service
How do I choose the right e-cigarette for me?
There are different types of e-cigarette, including vape pens, vape bars, pod devices, mods, and cigalikes. They can be rechargeable or disposable.
It's also important to choose the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid, which will depend on how much you smoke. You can get advice on models and e-liquids from a specialist vape shop.
Find out more about e-cigarettes, e-liquids and vaping to quit smoking on the Better Health website.
How safe are e-cigarettes?
In the UK, e-cigarettes are tightly regulated for safety and quality.
Vaping is not completely risk-free, but it poses a small fraction of the risk of smoking cigarettes. The long-term risks of vaping are not yet clear.
E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke.
The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at a much lower level.
What about risks from nicotine?
While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, most of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been widely used for many years to help people stop smoking and is a safe treatment.
Are e-cigarettes safe to use in pregnancy?
Little research has been conducted into the safety of e-cigarettes and e-liquids in pregnancy. It is not known whether the vapour is harmful to a baby in pregnancy.
If you're pregnant, licensed NRT products such as patches and gum are the recommended option to help you stop smoking.
But if you find using an e-cigarette helpful for quitting and staying smoke-free, it's much safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke.
Do e-cigarettes pose a fire risk?
There have been instances of e-cigarettes exploding or catching fire.
As with all rechargeable electrical devices, the correct charger should be used and the device should not be left charging unattended or overnight.
Reporting a safety concern with e-cigarettes
If you suspect you have experienced a health-related side effect from using your e-cigarette or would like to report a product defect, report these via the Yellow Card Scheme.
Is e-cigarette vapour harmful to others?
There's no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you.
This is in contrast to passive smoking (secondhand smoke), which is known to be very harmful to health.
Can I get an e-cigarette from my GP?
E-cigarettes are not currently available from the NHS on prescription, so you cannot get one from your GP.
You can buy them from specialist vape shops, some pharmacies and other retailers, or on the internet.
For more information and advice on using e-cigarettes to help quit smoking, visit the Better Health website.