what are e-cigarettes and how do you use them

Almost 3 million people use e-cigarettes in the UK – over half of those have now given up smoking completely.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than in smoke. There is good, reliable scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are a lot (at least 95%) less harmful than cigarettes.

The need to know about e-cigarettes

What is an e-cigarette?

An e-cigarette is a battery powered device that heats a solution called e-liquid or juice. E-liquid contains nicotine and flavours that are commonly found in food.

E-cigarettes allow you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke. This is a much cleaner and safer way to get the nicotine “hit” that you usually get from cigarettes.

Using an e-cigarette is called “vaping” as there is no burning involved.

Are e-cigarettes safer than smoking cigarettes?

Major health authorities such as Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, the Royal College of General Practitioners and charities including Cancer Research UK all support the use of e-cigarettes in adults as a convenient way to cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke, or to quit smoking altogether.

What about the dangers?

Using an e-cigarette is not completely without risk. But we do know that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than if you were to continue to smoke.

Watch this short video from Public Health England to learn more about vaping vs smoking.

Where can I find out more about e-cigarettes?

To talk to a Stop Smoking London adviser about e-cigarettes and other tools to help you quit smoking call 0300 123 1044.

If you'd like help choosing the right e-cigarette and e-liquid for you, a specialist vape shop can help and advise. You can find a list of vape shops here, or you may already know of others in your area.

Shops should always welcome your questions; ask about how long they have been trading, the type of e-cigarettes they stock, how e-cigarettes work, what would work best for you and if they are independent from the tobacco industry.

Why should I switch to e-cigarettes to help me stop smoking?

  1. Switching to an e-cigarette means you are greatly reducing the number of harmful chemicals that you are taking in to your body.
  2. Lots of people find vaping more enjoyable than smoking!
  3. You may find that you are able to taste things a lot better and that your sense of smell improves.
  4. You will save money by switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. Smoking a pack of cheap brand cigarettes will cost you about £8 a day, the same amount of vaping will cost you about £1.50 a day.

Anatomy of an e-cigarette

E-cigarettes are made up of three core components: a power source, a way to heat the liquid, and a mouthpiece. They come in different types and sizes, including disposable and rechargeable options.

If you would like help choosing the right e-cigarette and e-liquid, a specialist vape shop will be able to give you lots of advice. Remember to always refer to the manufactures instructions for information on your e-cigarette and e-liquid.

Watch this video to find out more about the anatomy of an e-cigarette and how they work.


  1. Drip Tip

    A drip tip is the mouthpiece you use to inhale the vapour from the e-cigarette. There are hundreds of different shapes to choose from, so you can find which you like best.

  2. Atomiser

    The atomiser is the part of the e-cigarette that heats up the liquid until it turns into a vapour. It’s usually made up of a heating coil, similar to a kettle.

  3. Battery

    The battery is what powers the atomiser in the e-cigarette.
    Different e-cigarettes have different batteries, some lasting longer than others. Most can be recharged.

  4. E-cigarette use and storage

    It is worth making sure that all e-cigarette devices, chargers and batteries display a CE mark. This is a certification mark that indicates conformity with European health, safety and environmental protection standards.

    E-liquids should be stored in a cool, dark place out of reach of children and pets, and empty bottles should be disposed of safely.

    To reduce the risk of fire, like any electrical device, the correct charger for the device should always be used and e-cigarettes should not be left charging unattended or overnight. Also, avoid placing spare batteries in your pocket with loose change or keys as this may cause ignition.

Combining your choices

You don’t have to rely on just one method to quit. You are more likely to quit smoking by mixing and matching personal support like motivational support from a health advisor with e-cigarettes, and a prescription medication. What would work best for you?

Support

There is lots of support to help you quit smoking from health advisers; they are ready with tips, information and encouragement.

Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT)

NRT are products that provide you with a low level of nicotine and so can help you fight nicotine cravings as you quit.

Prescribed medication

There are two types of prescribed medication that can help you quit: Champix and Zyban - they both come as a pill to be taken daily. Both medications can roughly double your chance of quitting smoking for good.

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