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E-cigarettes: Just The Facts

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, are products made to deliver nicotine without the smoke

They also don’t have other chemicals like tar and carbon monoxide that are found in tobacco smoke. E-cigs, also known as ‘vapourisers’, can come in lots of different designs. Some look like cigarettes with a glowing tip, others look a bit like pens. The level of nicotine can vary, and they often contain flavours.

There are also similar products called ‘e-shisha’ which are designed to give a similar taste to the tobacco smoked in shisha pipes.

When a person uses one of these products it is called ‘vaping’, not smoking. Someone who vapes and doesn’t use any tobacco products is a non-smoker.

They have been sold as cheaper and more healthy than smoking and have become very popular in the UK in the last few years. This is mostly with people who are trying to give up or cut down on smoking tobacco. The number of young people using e-cigarettes regularly is very low, and those who do are almost all current or ex-smokers.

What’s in them?

  • Nicotine
  • Propylene glycol (which is the same thing that asthma inhalers contain)
  • And/or vegetable glycol
  • Water
  • Flavourings

E-cigs VS normal cigarettes

Although we don’t know what the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes will be because they’re so new, experts are confident that the risks are far less than if someone smoked tobacco. If someone just can’t or doesn’t want to stop smoking, they are a much better alternative.

There may be a danger connected with buying e-cigs over the internet as they could come from a supplier that has not been checked for quality.

E-cigs and the law

  • From 1st October 2015 it became illegal for a retailer to sell electronic cigarettes or e-liquids to anyone under the age of 18. It also became illegal for an adult to purchase any nicotine containing product on behalf of someone under 18, which would include E-cigarettes or E-liquids which contain nicotine.
  • It’s not against the law to smoke e-cigs in a public building like a pub or restaurant, but many places make their own rules against smoking e-cigs to avoid upsetting their other customers and confusion.
  • All e-cigs should be kite marked  and have the CE sign as this is recognised National standard.

2 very good reasons why non-smokers should not start using e-cigs

  • Most e-cigs contain nicotine
  • While e-cigs cost much less than cigarettes they still cost money – money that could be spent on other more interesting things like music, makeup or travel
true or false
E-cigs are just as dangerous as smoking
Wrong! Experts are confident that the risks of using e-cigarettes are far less than smoking tobacco.
Correct! Experts are confident that the risks of using e-cigarettes are far less than smoking tobacco.
true or false
E-cigs have nicotine in them that causes cancer
It is the tar and other chemicals in tobacco that cause cancer, not nicotine.
Nicotine doesn't cause cancer.
true or false
E-cigs aren't dangerous because we know what’s in them
We do know what’s in them, its nicotine, propylene glycol (which is the same thing that asthma inhalers contain), and/or vegetable glycol, water, flavourings. Dangers from e-cigs are more likely to be associated with a faulty device that doesn’t work properly or overheats while charging. People should always make sure that the e-cig they buy is good quality, by buying from a shop which has a good reputation. This will hopefully ensure that the liquid is good quality and the device will work well and charge correctly.
We still don't know the long term effects of using an e-cig, but they are likely to be far safer than cigarettes and should always be bought from safe source.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.

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