E-cigarettes

Image of e-cigarette

Research so far shows that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking. This is because e-cigarettes don’t contain cancer causing tobacco. They do contain nicotine, which is addictive, but isn’t what causes the damage from smoking. 

What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vapes) heat a liquid that has nicotine in. The liquid then becomes a vapour that people breathe in, as they would smoke from a tobacco cigarette. E-cigarettes give smokers the nicotine hit they need to help beat their cravings. But, the vapour doesn’t contain the same dangerous cocktail of chemicals found in tobacco smoke. 

Over recent years, e-cigarettes have become the most popular stop smoking tool in England. 

Can e-cigarettes help me stop smoking?

The most effective way to stop smoking is with the medication and support that is available from free local Stop Smoking Services. But for people who’ve tried to quit before, or don’t want to use other aids, e-cigarettes could be another option. Most Stop Smoking Services will let you take an e-cigarette along to help with your quit attempt. Please see our page on how to stop smoking for further information.

How safe are e-cigarettes?

Studies show that levels of key harmful chemicals are lower in people who switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes. There are still some questions about long-term safety, as e-cigarettes haven’t been around that long. But the evidence is pointing towards them being far less harmful than tobacco.  

In terms of safety, e-cigarettes are likely far closer to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT has long been known as a much safer alternative to smoking.

The most important thing for your health is to stop using tobacco.

Note: No evidence has shown that e-cigarettes cause the disease known as popcorn lung. The chemical thought to be responsible for this disease has been banned from use in e-liquids in Europe.

Photo of Owen Carter GP

E-cigarettes have become the most popular way to break the habit, and research so far shows that they’re a far safer alternative to smoking. For smokers who’ve struggled to stop in the past, e-cigarettes are a worthwhile option to consider, especially when used alongside support from a Stop Smoking Service

Owen Carter, GP

Cost of e-cigarettes

Many people are able to save hundreds of pounds a year after making the switch away from tobacco. As with most things, some people will spend more than others. But people generally find that vaping works out cheaper for them than smoking.

References for cost calculations can be found below.

Ex-smoker Karen

I started smoking at 16 and tried to stop a few times, but it didn’t work. I heard about e-cigs so bought one, and it was worth every penny. While other things can work well for people, it was the e-cig that helped me

Karen Lee, Ex-smoker from Bury

10 common questions about e-cigarettes answered

Person using an e-cigarette

Is it okay to smoke and vape? How can e-cigarettes help me stop smoking? Dr Andy McEwen answers 10 of the most commonly asked questions on e-cigarettes.

Each person needs to find what works best for them to help them stop smoking. But there are some tips that can help you use an e-cigarette effectively:

  • Help is available. As with other quitting aids, e-cigarettes are likely to be more successful alongside behavioural support. Visit your local Stop Smoking Services to give yourself the best chance of ditching cigarettes.
  • Some people prefer smaller “cig-a-like” e-cigarettes, and some the more modern “tank-style” devices. Research suggests it may be easier to beat your cravings with the newer devices. But the most important thing is to find one you’re comfortable using.
  • Use your e-cigarette as often as you need. Don’t wait for your cravings to reach the point where you may be tempted to reach for a cigarette. Like with nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), you may need to use it often to keep you from smoking.
  • Using an e-cigarette won’t feel exactly the same as smoking. If it doesn't work out for you, there are still many options available, including other medications and support from Stop Smoking Services. You can also use an e-cigarette alongside NRTs if you need.

Though e-cigarettes are almost certainly far safer than smoking, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be entirely without harm. And it’s important to remember that nicotine is highly addictive. We don't recommend that non-smokers start using e-cigarettes.

Cost of smoking vs. cost of e-cigarettes

Calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK. Figures are for males and females of all ages combined. Cigarette smoking calculation based on 11.5 cigarettes smoked per day on average [1], and a 20-pack of cigarettes costing £8.30 [2]. E-cigarette use calculation based on 3ml e-liquid used per day on average by daily vapers [3], 10ml tobacco flavour e-liquid (brand sold most commonly across the main UK supermarkets) costing £4.23 on average across UK supermarkets [4], e-cigarette starter kit (brand sold most commonly across the main UK supermarkets) costing £14.99 on average across UK supermarkets [5], atomiser replacement (required around every 18ml e-liquid used therefore every 6 days for average user, brand sold most commonly across the main UK supermarkets) costing £4.99 on average across UK supermarkets [6].

[1]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/...
[2] http://www.who.int/tobacco/global_report/2017/appendix-ix/en/
[3] http://ash.org.uk/download/use-of-e-cigarettes-among-adults-in-great-bri...
[4] http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/tesco-price-comparison/Tobacconist/Blu_Cl... accessed 31.08.17
[5] http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/tesco-price-comparison/Tobacconist/Blu_Pr... accessed 31.08.17
[6] http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/tesco-price-comparison/Tobacconist/Blu_Cl... accessed 31.08.17