E-cigarettes, sometimes shortened to e-cigs or vapes are electronic cigarettes. Vapes are battery-powered, portable smoking devices. They are made up of several different parts that all work together to produce vapour which is inhaled. Vapes come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have the same basic components that make them work, which you can find out more about below.
How does a vape work?
Have a look at the image below to see what the different parts of an e-cig/vapes are called.
What's in a vape?
The cloud of vapour that is produced when people smoke an e-cig is not smoke. It is made from the e-liquid that you put inside the e-cig.
These are the chemicals that are found in e-liquid:
Propylene Glycol (PG) - is a colourless, odourless and slightly sweet liquid. It is generally recognised as safe and is widely used in food, medicine, and cosmetic products.
Vegetable Glycerin (VG) - is made from plant-based oils, it is a clear, odourless and sweet liquid. It has a consistency similar to syrup.
Flavourings - various flavourings are added to the above ingredients to create unique e-liquid flavours. Flavouring chemicals are usually food-grade chemicals, however, this means they are safe to ingest but not known to be safe to inhale.
Are vapes safe?
Current research suggests that vaping is less harmful when compared to smoking tobacco. However, they should not be used by non-smokers or young people. There has been a recent increase in information about the health effects of vapes and e-cigarettes and there is a growing concern that they are health-harming.
Obviously, smoking anything at all isn’t good for your health, but, if you are already smoking tobacco, vapes are a better alternative. If you would like help to stop smoking click here.
There have also been issues with the safety of the batteries within vapes. You may have seen videos or heard stories of them blowing up. It is important to make sure that you follow the manufacturers' guidelines when charging and operating your e-cig. Make sure you buy one from a reputable store, to ensure you buy authentic and genuine branded products.
Young People & Vapes
Vapes and refillable liquids come in lots of different flavours and under all sorts of different brand names. It’s debated, whether these flavours influence young people into trying them. There are also lots of vape influencers online who promote the use of e-cigs/vapes by doing tricks with them. Social media platforms are guilty of glamorising the use of vapes and often contain misinformation about vaping.
It’s also important to note that most e-liquid contains nicotine and it has been proven that young people's brain development can be affected by early exposure to nicotine.
Developing a nicotine addiction, or habit of vaping through the use of vapes from a young age could lead to young people taking up smoking in the future. Non-smokers and young people should not use e-cigarettes/vapes.
For more information on the risks to young people, visit the ASH Scotland page dedicated to this topic here.
Vapes and The Law
The UK has one of the most regulated e-cig markets in the world.
Minimum standards of safety and quality
Packaging and labelling requirements
A ban on advertising in print, broadcast, online and other electronic media
A ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s and on purchase by adults on behalf of under-18s
E-cigarette refillable tanks bigger than 2ml are banned
E-liquid (with nicotine) cannot be sold in quantities bigger than 10ml
The strength of nicotine must not exceed 20mg/ml,
Some additives, flavourings and ALL colourings are banned
Q: Will a vape help me to stop smoking?
A: Maybe. vapes might be able to help you to stop smoking.
There is a lack of sufficient evidence to say either yes or no. Vapes can help people stop smoking, but they can also increase your nicotine addiction if you are not careful. To get the best results, make sure you're using it only as much as you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid. Most disposable vapes on the market contain high levels of nicotine, the equivalent of around 20 cigarettes worth. So if you're burning through one quicker than you would smoke 20 cigarettes, you're possibly using it too often.
Remember: try to cut down on your cigarettes/ stop smoking cigarettes while using a vape to reduce the harm to yourself. Using e-cigs without completely stropping smoking does not provide health benefits.
If you want to stop smoking, the best way is to speak to a Stop Smoking Specialist. To find out what services are in your area, visit the Quit Your Way website.
Q: Is e-cig vapour harmful to others?
A: Probably, yeah.
So far, there is not a lot of evidence that e-cigs can cause harm to other people around you. However, we can't guarantee it won't annoy them. Current evidence suggests that any risk of harm is low, especially when compared with secondhand tobacco smoke. But, there still is a risk. It's best to puff on your vape outside, and treat it just like you would tobacco smoke.
Have a look at the links below for further reading and information.
NHS SMOKE-FREE - https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/help-and-advice/e-cigarettes
Cancer Research - https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/
ASH Scotland - Vaping & Young People - https://www.ashscotland.org.uk/what-we-do/children-young-people-and-tobacco/young-people-and-vaping/