E-cigarettes: Just The Facts
Electronic cigarettes are designed to deliver the nicotine 'high' 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 ‘vapes’, 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 are available in different flavours.
When you use an e-cigarette, it’s called ‘vaping’, not smoking. Someone who vapes and doesn’t use any tobacco products is a non-smoker.
E-cigarettes are less harmful and cheaper alternatives to smoking, and have become very popular in the UK over recent 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 low but on the rise. Some of those who do are almost all current or ex-smokers. However, a number of young people who vape have never smoked before.
What’s in them?
- Nicotine (although non-nicotine e-cigs are also available)
- Propylene glycol (which is the same thing that theatrical fog contains)
- Vegetable glycerine
E-cigs vs normal cigarettes
Although we don’t know what the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes will be because they’re quite new, experts are confident that the risks are far less than if someone smoked tobacco. If someone chooses to smoke, vaping is a much better alternative.
E-cigs and the law
- From 1 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 have their own rules.
- There may be a danger connected with buying e-cigs over the internet as they could come from a supplier who has not been checked for quality.
- All e-cigs should be kite marked and have the CE sign as this is the recognised National standard.
There are very good reasons why non-smokers should not start using e-cigs
- Although e-cigs are substantially less harmful than cigarettes, they aren’t risk free. Vaping exposes users to some toxins and we don’t yet know what the risks might be in the longer term
- Most e-cigs contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and affects different chemicals in your brain. If you want to stop using e-cigs that contain nicotine, you might find this difficult as you are addicted to the effects of the nicotine.
- Nicotine makes your heart beat much faster and the vapour can irritate the lungs with some users reporting breathing problems or asthma attacks.
- While e-cigs cost much less than cigarettes they still cost money – money that could be spent on other more interesting things.
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 school nurse.
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