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How to stop smoking

Vaping and e-cigarettes

There is strong evidence e-cigarettes can help smokers quit. On this page read more about e-cigarettes and vaping, and how they can be useful tools to help you quit smoking.

What is vaping (using an e-cigarette)?

E-cigarettes are a device that allows you to inhale nicotine in a vapour, rather than smoke. They don’t burn tobacco and produce smoke. They don’t produce tar particles or carbon monoxide, which are two of the most harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. Using an e-cigarette is also known as vaping.

In recent years, e-cigarettes have become a popular tool to help people quit smoking. At the moment, e-cigarettes are not licensed as medicines though this may happen in the future. However, stop smoking services will support people who are using them as a way to quit smoking. There are different types of e-cigarettes available to buy. 

Different types of e-cigarettes

Using e-cigarettes to stop smoking

An expert independent evidence review by Public Health England found that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful to health than tobacco and are effective as a tool to help smokers quit smoking. Vaping is a less harmful way to take in nicotine and the vapour contains few of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke - if they are present, they are at much lower levels. There is now also good evidence that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit and guidance to stop smoking services is that they 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.

Watch the video

E-cigarettes and your lungs

E-cigarettes are a relatively new stop smoking tool. They are thought to be around 95% less harmful to health than tobacco and for many they are a helpful way to give up smoking. But e-cigarettes are not risk free, and more research is needed on how long-term vaping can affect the lungs and overall health. For example, we know that vaping can have some impact on inflammation in the airways which might cause harm over long periods.  We don’t recommend anyone using e-cigarettes unless they are trying to stop smoking.

So, while it’s clear vaping is less harmful for health than smoking, it’s best to stop vaping eventually – especially if you have a long-term lung condition. 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. Remember: it’s best to eventually stop vaping as well as smoking, but if you’re struggling, vaping is a better long-term alternative to smoking.

There is no good evidence second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is harmful – this is different to second-hand smoke from tobacco smoking, which has known health risks. However it can be a nuisance to others. People who vape should be considerate and avoid blowing large clouds around others. People with a lung condition may be sensitive to the large clouds of vapour produced from e-cigarettes – similar to if your lung condition is made worse by environmental triggers, like cold weather, dust or pollen. It’s important to be aware of your own triggers so you can understand how to reduce your risk of having a 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 about your smoking habits and offered advice and treatment to quit if you smoke. This is because smoking while using oxygen therapy can be very dangerous (even fatal).

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.

Read next: how will I benefit from stopping smoking?

Read next: when will I feel better?

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