From the 01st October 202 the Stop Smoking Service will be providing free e-cigarettes to help people to quit smoking there are many mixed messages about them so here’s some facts and information when thinking about using one.


E-cigarettes, also referred to as vapes, are electronic devices that heat a solution (e-liquid) and allow the user to inhale it.


E-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco and don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide, which are two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke.


Tar forms a sticky layer on the inside of the lungs, this damages the lungs and may lead to lung cancer, emphysema and other lung problems.


Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which takes the place of oxygen in your blood, this forces the heart to work harder, stops the lungs from working properly and this can lead to heart disease and stroke.


They come in different shapes, sizes and models; E-cigarette are meant to look like a cigarette, but these models are becoming less popular, and most people tend to use a vape. They also come in a Box Mod or Vape Pod.


E-cigarettes and vapes contain e-liquid, this is the liquid inside which the consumer inhales and exhales. E-liquids typically contain Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, flavourings and nicotine.


Propylene Glycol (PG) is a base used in e-liquid.  It carries flavourings well and gives the user a greater throat hit.


Vegetable Glycerine (VG) is a base used in e-liquid.  It’s a sweeter base and gives the user more vapour.  It’s usually an option for people sensitive to Propylene Glycol (PG).


Both liquids are often found in many food products and are a base for e-liquids.


Flavourings are added to give the consumer a choice of flavours, flavours include, Strawberry Ice Cream, Tobacco, Pink Lemonade, Summer Fruits and many more.


Nicotine is also added to the e-liquids however you can purchase e-liquids which contain 0% nicotine.


In the UK, e-liquids must be tested before being sold legally, this means the company is compliant with the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which ensures minimum standards for safety and quality.


One of the most frequent questions asked is “are they safe?”. Public Health England’s 2015 Independent Evidence Review found that, based on the available evidence, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking.

The Royal College of Physicians came to a similar conclusion in its 2016 report ‘Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction’. There are tight regulations in place in the UK which focus on the safety and quality of e-cigarettes.

The evidence still shows vaping carries a small fraction of the risk of smoking. Using a nicotine-containing e-cigarette makes it much more likely someone will quit successfully than relying on willpower alone. It’s important to use regulated e-liquids and never risk vaping home-made or illicit e-liquids or adding substances.

In summary, E-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk to health compared to smoking and are a safer alternative.

There is growing evidence to support that using an e-cigarette with the right support can help people to stop smoking. Following the steps below will increase your chance of successfully quitting smoking using an e-cigarette:


  • Purchase an e-cigarette/vape and e-liquids from a reputable specialist vape shop
  • Get advice from the vape shop staff about the right device and strength of liquid that would be best for you
  • Only use your e-cigarette rather than smoking and vaping intermittently
  • Set a quit date (the day you will stop smoking cigarettes), prepare for it and stick to it


If someone has never smoked it’s NOT advisable to start using an e-cigarette or vape, as it’s possible to become addicted to nicotine.


To legally purchase an e-cigarette, vape or e-liquids you must be aged 18 and over. The UK government updated the laws on the sale of vaping products on 01st of October 2015. This made it illegal for e-cigarette retailers to sell vaping products to anyone under the age of 18.


It’s also illegal to buy e-cigarettes, vapes or e-liquids on behalf of anyone under the age of 18. This includes parents, family, carers or friends.


Another question asked is “are they safe to use around other people?”

There is no evidence that vaping causes harm to other people around you. The available evidence shows that any risk of harm is extremely low, especially when compared with second hand tobacco smoke often referred to as passive smoking.


Many people are often scared or put off by using a vape as they have heard the term “Popcorn Lung” in the media. Popcorn Lung (Bronchiolitis Obliterans) is commonly known as ‘Popcorn workers lung’. It is an inflammatory condition that affects the lungs little airways. It has never been known nor is there scientific evidence that vaping causes this condition.


The amount of nicotine in an e-cigarette or vape depends on what nicotine strength you choose. E-liquid strength ranges from:


20mg (2%)

18mg (1.8%)

16mg (1.6%

12mg (1.2%)

11mg (1.1%)

10mg (1%)

6mg (0.6%)

3mg (0.3%)

0mg (no nicotine)


Deciding which strength, you would like to use can be difficult and most people aren’t aware that vaping and smoking tobacco absorbs nicotine differently.

When vaping it doesn’t deliver the same amount of nicotine to the bloodstream as cigarettes. Therefore, when switching from smoking to vaping you may find that you use the vape more, this is a common factor but over time usage should decrease.


There are some potential risks associated with vaping and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), we don’t know the long-term effects of vaping. However, the biggest risk for COPD is smoking tobacco. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or licenced medication would be the least risky way to quit, but if the patient wants to use an e-cigarette to stop smoking completely, it is still safer than continuing to smoke.


Little research has been conducted into the safety of e-cigarettes in pregnancy, however they are likely to be significantly less harmful to a pregnant woman and her baby than cigarettes. The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, which includes the Royal College of Midwives and the leading UK baby charities, produced the following advice: if you are pregnant, licensed NRT products such as patches and gum are the recommended option to help you stop smoking. However, if you find using an e-cigarette helpful for quitting and staying smokefree, it is much safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke.


The Stop Smoking Service offers the guidance you need. There’s lots of free support on offer and by using the help that’s right for you, you’ll be boosting your chance of quitting for good. We can support you to quit smoking alongside using a vape and if you are smoking and vaping, we can also offer support.

Please note if you’re currently only using an e-cigarette or vape for more than 2 weeks, we can offer advice, but you will not be eligible for NRT or medication as you are classed as a non-smoker.

Please call 0800 013 0553 or to refer yourself via the website please click here

Whilst we cannot offer support to quit vaping we have produced a guide that offers tips to help quit vaping, which you can download for free from our website: https://www.thestopsmokingservice.co.uk/resources/

Not ready to speak to us just yet? Why not download our free My Quit Route app. It’s free to anyone who lives or works in Milton Keynes, Central Bedfordshire or Bedford Borough.

The app will guide you through a set of questions to help you decide what support is right for you. It has a range of self-help activities to manage cravings, stress and day-to-day triggers around your smoking. Available from Apple and Google Play

Provided by the Stop Smoking Service

Public Health


Written by Claire Peter-Daly