Male hand holding a vape surrounded by smoke


What is Vaping?

Nicotine vaping is one of the most effective tools for quitting smoking and substantially less harmful than smoking tobacco.

Costs of e-cigarettes can vary, but generally they’re much cheaper than cigarettes.

Vaping is not recommended for non-smokers and young people because it is not completely harmless. But if you are a tobacco smoker considering switching it could be right for you and will almost certainly reduce your risks of cancer, COPD and a range of smoking-caused diseases.

E-cigarettes are most effective if used with support from an NHS stop smoking service.

Want to find out more? Read the Q&A below – source 

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 that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine, and flavourings.

E-liquids come in different nicotine strengths, so you control how much nicotine you need to help with cravings and other withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling irritable and having low mood.

Many thousands of people in the UK have stopped smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. There’s good evidence that they can be effective.

Using an e-cigarette can help you manage your nicotine cravings. Make sure you’re using it as much as you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid.

Some people find vaping helps them because the hand-to-mouth action is like smoking, plus you get similar sensations, like throat hit (the “kick” in the back of your throat when you inhale).

You will not get the full benefit from vaping unless you stop smoking cigarettes completely. You can get advice from a specialist vape shop or your local stop smoking service.

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.

In the UK, e-cigarettes are tightly regulated for safety and quality. They’re not completely risk free, but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes.

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 much lower levels.

Vaping has not been around for long enough to know the risks of long-term use. This includes the long-term effects of inhaling the flavourings in vapour. While vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking, it is unlikely to be totally harmless.

Ideally, if you are vaping to quit smoking, you should aim to eventually stop vaping too. The healthiest option is not to smoke or vape.

If you do not smoke, do not start vaping.

Nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes but is not the substance which causes most of the health risks from smoking.

Almost all of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.

Nicotine replacement therapy has been widely used for many years to help people stop smoking and is a safe treatment.

A rechargeable e-cigarette with a refillable tank delivers nicotine more effectively and quickly than a disposable model and is likely to give you a better chance of quitting smoking.

If you’re a lighter smoker, you could try a ciga-like, vape pen or pod system.

If you’re a heavier smoker, it’s advisable to try a vape pen, pod system or mod.

It’s also important to choose the right strength of e-liquid to satisfy your needs.

You can get advice from a specialist vape shop or your local stop smoking service.

Little research has been conducted into the safety of e-cigarettes in pregnancy, but they’re likely to be much less harmful to a pregnant woman and her baby than cigarettes.

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 smokefree, it’s much safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke.

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.

The London Fire Brigade has produced safety advice for choosing and charging vapes

There’s no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you.

This is in contrast to secondhand smoke from tobacco, which is known to be extremely harmful to the health of both children and adults.

Visit our Smokefree families page to find out about the risks of secondhand tobacco smoke.

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.

An estimated 3 million vapes are discarded across the UK every week and we need to do more to protect the environment.

While tobacco is toxic waste, an increasing volume of vapes are being discarded in waste processing facilities, streets and green spaces.  This costs money to clean up which could be better spent on other services, but if these are damaged, they can leak toxic materials that are harmful to the environment.

  • If possible use rechargeable devices, and avoid the use of single-use disposable options to save on waste
  • To make recycling easier, collect them over time and take them to your nearest household waste and recycling centre or large supermarket. They have a legal obligation to take them from you for recycling



In this short film leading smoking researcher Dr Lion Shahab and Dr Rosemary Leonard carry out a demonstration to visually illustrate the impact of smoking vs vaping over a month.

Scientists in a laboratory

Vaping is now the most common way for smokers to cut down or quit completely. But there are so many myths and so much misleading information…visit the NHS Better Health website for all you need to know