The facts about vaping

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Nicotine vaping has become hugely popular as an alternative to smoking in recent years. It is one of the best tools for quitting the habit.

Electronic devices are used to inhale nicotine vapour by heating a fluid (E-liquid), instead of by smoking. But there is still a lot of confusion about the benefits and potential risks of vaping.

This article aims to answer some common questions.

Who is it for?

Vaping is much less harmful than smoking, so experts recommend it as a replacement for tobacco for anyone who smokes.

It is not recommended for non-smokers or for children, because it isn’t totally harmless. It still involves a highly addictive drug (nicotine).

Are there side-effects?

Yes, there are. They include:

  • Coughing and dry or irritated mouth and throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches

If you have any side effects, speak to a stop-smoking adviser or vape specialist instead of ruling it out as a tool to quit. A small change could help.

Is vaping harmful?

Experts all agree that vaping is much less harmful than smoking, but it isn’t totally risk-free.

Vape users will be avoiding tar and carbon monoxide (two of the worst toxins in smoking) and will be taking in far fewer chemicals which can cause cancer, lung disease, heart attack and stroke.

The long-term effects of vaping are unclear, because it is so new. But experts recommend that anyone using vapes to quit smoking should also aim to stop vaping in the longer term.

There is no evidence that vaping is harmful to those around you, but it is advised not to vape near babies or children.

Can you vape when pregnant?

Because of a lack of research on vaping and pregnancy, nicotine replacement patches and gum are recommended for those trying to stop smoking when pregnant.

But experts are certain that vaping is much less harmful than smoking, so it can be a useful tool to stay smoke-free when pregnant (and around those who are pregnant).

Are vape devices safe?

There has been publicity about vape devices exploding or catching fire when charging, but this is extremely rare.

It is recommended to buy devices from a reputable source, to make sure they are covered by UK safety regulations. You should always use the correct charger and never leave a device charging overnight or unattended.

Vapes and E-liquid should also be kept away from pets and children. There is a risk of death from poisoning if the nicotine fluid is swallowed, especially by children.

Key sources and further reading

NHS Better Health: Vaping to quit smoking


31 March, 2023