Electronic Cigarettes / Vaping
Using e-cigarettes to stop smoking
There’s some confusion and misleading information about vaping, which can make it difficult to work out what’s true or not.
Nicotine vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking. It’s also one of the most effective tools for quitting smoking.
Vaping is not recommended for non-smokers and young people because it is not completely harmless.
Here you will find the facts on vaping, based on scientific evidence and research, plus advice on how to use vapes (sometimes called e-cigarettes or e-cigs) as a tool to quit smoking.
How vaping can help you quit
Vapes are electronic devices that let you inhale nicotine in a vapour instead of smoke. This is done by heating a solution (e-liquid) that typically contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and nicotine.
E-liquids come in different nicotine strengths, so you control how much nicotine you need to help with cravings and other withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling irritable and having low mood.
Nicotine itself is not very harmful and has been used safely for many years in medicines to help people stop smoking.
The routines and rituals of smoking can be hard to stop, so vaping can help you gradually let go of these while immediately reducing the health risks of smoking cigarettes.
Vaping side effects
Common side effects of vaping include:
- coughing, dry mouth and throat
- mouth and throat irritation
- shortness of breath
If you experience side effects from vaping, get advice from a stop smoking adviser or specialist vape retailer before you decide to stop using a vape as your quit smoking tool.
It’s rare to have a serious reaction to vaping. If you think you have had an adverse effect from using a vape or have a safety concern, you can contact us directly.
Is vaping harmful?
Experts agree vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking but it is not risk-free. Vaping exposes users to fewer toxins and at lower levels than smoking cigarettes.
Switching to vaping significantly reduces your exposure to toxins that can cause cancer, lung disease, and diseases of the heart and circulation like heart attack and stroke.
Long-term effects of vaping
Vaping has not been around for long enough to know the risks of long-term use. This includes the long-term effects of inhaling the flavourings in vapour. While vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking, it is unlikely to be totally harmless.
Ideally, if you are vaping to quit smoking, you should aim to eventually stop vaping too.
The healthiest option is not to smoke or vape.
If you do not smoke, do not start vaping.
Vaping versus smoking
Cigarettes release thousands of different chemicals when they burn. Many are poisonous and up to 70 cause cancer.
Toxins in tobacco smoke can also cause other serious illnesses, including lung disease, heart disease and stroke.
Vaping exposes users to far fewer toxins than cigarette smoking, and vapes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, 2 of the most harmful substances in tobacco smoke.
Secondhand smoke and vaping around others
While secondhand smoke from cigarettes causes serious harm to others, there is no evidence so far that vaping is harmful to people around you.
But as a precaution, it is best not to vape around babies and children if you can avoid it. Young children often copy what adults do.
Always be considerate when vaping around anyone else, especially people with health conditions like asthma or other respiratory conditions, or people who do not like vaping.
Young people and vaping
While vaping can help smokers quit, it is not harmless and is not for young people under 18. It is especially important to protect young lungs and brains.
That’s why there’s a minimum age of sale for vaping products in Gibraltar. It is illegal to sell nicotine vaping products to anyone under 18 or for adults to buy them on behalf of under-18s.
If you find a retailer selling either nicotine vapes or tobacco products to under-18s, you can report it to us.
Talking to young people about vaping
It’s important for young people to know the facts about vaping so they can make an informed choice. Young people can find out more on the FRANK website.
Parents, carers and anyone working with children can make sure young people understand the health facts about vaping and know about vaping and the law.
Facts to tell young people about vaping:
- Vaping is a way for adults to stop smoking – not something for non-smokers, especially children and young people to try.
- Vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking but that does not mean it is harmless.
- In Gibraltar and in the UK, it is against the law to sell nicotine vaping products to under-18s or for adults to buy them on their behalf.
- Vaping exposes users to some toxins, and we do not yet know what the risks might be in the longer term.
- Some vapes contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance that can be hard to stop using once you have started.
- Nicotine may be more risky for young people than for adults, as evidence suggests the brain in adolescence is more sensitive to its effects.
- Some disposable vapes on sale are illegal and do not meet UK quality and safety regulations.
Once you have been vaping for a while and feel sure you will not go back to smoking, you can aim to quit vaping too. Many vapers find they get to this stage after about 12 months.
There are a couple of ways to try to quit vaping:
- reduce your frequency of vaping over time
- gradually reduce the strength of nicotine in your e-liquid
Do not rush this step. Only reduce your vaping frequency or nicotine strength when you feel you will not go back to smoking and do not have to puff more to compensate.