What is vaping?
Vaping is using an e-cigarette to inhale nicotine as a vapour, rather than smoke. E-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco or produce smoke. They don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide, which are two of the most harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke.
E-cigarettes have become a popular tool to help people quit smoking. E-cigarettes are not currently licensed as medicines, though this may happen in the future. However, stop smoking services will support you if you use them to quit smoking.
Using e-cigarettes to stop smoking
E-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking tobacco and are effective as a tool to help smokers quit smoking. However, they are not risk free, and more evidence is needed to understand the long-term risks.
Recent research has found that vaping instead of smoking tobacco leads to a lot less exposure to toxins that cause cancer, lung disease and cardiovascular disease.
There is also good evidence that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit and that they are slightly more effective than traditional NRT products. Stop smoking services should support people who want to quit this way.
Millions of people in the UK have successfully stopped smoking with the help of e-cigarettes. Your GP or stop smoking advisor should be able to advise you on how to use an e-cigarette to stop smoking, and how you can use them with other support to improve your chances of stopping smoking.
Watch this video from the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT), which discusses e-cigarettes and how they can be used to stop smoking.
E-cigarettes and your lungs
E-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco, but they’re not risk-free. More research is needed on how long-term vaping can affect your lungs and overall health.
We know that vaping can cause inflammation in the airways, which might cause harm over time. We don’t recommend that anyone uses e-cigarettes unless they are trying to stop smoking.
If you have a long-term lung condition, it’s a good idea to stop vaping eventually. But it’s important to not give up vaping before you’re ready, as this could cause you to start smoking again. Many of the same techniques used to quit tobacco smoking can be used to quit vaping.
Some people with asthma tell us that the vape from e-cigarettes triggers their symptoms.
What about second-hand vapour?
There’s not a lot of evidence about whether second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is harmful. However, some studies have shown short-term exposure to second hand vapour is not harmful.
People with asthma tell us it can irritate their airways. People who vape should not blow large clouds of vapour around others.
People with a lung condition may be sensitive to the vapour from e-cigarettes. This is similar to the way lung symptoms can be set off by things like cold weather, dust, or pollen. It’s important to be aware of what can set off your symptoms, so you know how to reduce your risk of having an asthma attack or flare-up.
E-cigarettes and home oxygen therapy
If you have low blood oxygen levels, you may benefit from home oxygen therapy. At your oxygen assessment, you’ll be asked if you smoke and offered advice and treatment to quit. This is because smoking while using oxygen therapy is very dangerous.
E-cigarettes should not be used when using home oxygen therapy. If you are a long-term vaper, you may not be prescribed home oxygen therapy, as it is a fire risk to yourself and others.