Over recent years, e-cigarettes have become popular in the UK, with the Welsh Health Survey (2015) showing that 6% of Welsh residents are currently using an e-cigarette with 15% saying that they have tried them.
E-cigarettes deliver nicotine in an aerosol that is produced by heating a liquid. The liquid contains nicotine; propylene glycol and/or glycerine; and flavourings. This aerosol is often called a vapour, with the use of e-cigarettes commonly described as ‘vaping’.
Unlike cigarettes, there is no burning with e-cigarettes so smoke is not produced, meaning that there are none of the harmful products of burning tobacco, such as tar and carbon monoxide. While nicotine is not responsible for the vast majority of harm from smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products, it is an addictive substance and can be toxic when ingested in large doses.
Usually, e-cigarettes contain nicotine. The use of nicotine by children and young people is unsafe as it can cause addiction and harm the developing adolescent brain. There are no benefits to children and young people in using e-cigarettes. While the health risks of e-cigarettes are significantly lower than smoking cigarettes, they are not without risk. If a young person is smoking and would like help to quit, Help Me Quit services provide expert help and access to licensed stop smoking medications.
For young people aged 11-25 years who may have concerns or queries about smoking, they are encouraged to contact the Filter project. The Filter’s motto is to “filter out the myths and gives facts about smoking” to young people.
NHS stop smoking services which provide support to quit smoking and free licensed stop smoking medications offer you the best chance of quitting. If you get help to quit smoking, you’re four times more likely to stop. For information on the local support available, please see ‘What help is available?’
If you’re a smoker who wants to quit without expert support, e-cigarettes can help you with your quit attempt although there are no e-cigarettes currently licensed as a medicine.
If you are a smoker who is unable or doesn’t want to stop smoking now, switching completely from smoking tobacco to using e-cigarettes will significantly reduce the risks to your health compared to continuing smoking. This advice does not apply to pregnant women, who should consider using licensed nicotine replacement products (please see ‘I’m pregnant so can I use an e-cigarette?’ for more information). For more information contact the Help Me Quit team on 0800 085 2219 or request us to call you by clicking here.