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E-cigarettes – or vapes - work by heating a flavoured liquid to generate a vapour that’s mostly water. In many e-cigarettes, the liquid and, in turn, the vapour contains nicotine. There are also e-cigarettes without nicotine.
For many smokers, the nicotine in an e-cigarette is important to completely switch away from smoking.
In 2015, an expert review for the Government by Public Health England concluded that e-cigarettes present a fraction of the risk of smoking – but that many smokers don’t realise this.
Approximately, 1.5 million adults in the UK have switched to e-cigarettes and given up cigarette smoking.

e-cigarettes e-cigarettes

All about E-cigarettes

There are three main types of e-cigarettes:

  • Cig-a-likes: these were the first type of e-cigarette to become popular. Cig-a-likes are simpler to use than other e-cigarette formats because there’s no need to refill them. The range of flavours tends to be limited. The volume of vapour is smaller and battery life is shorter than other types of e-cigarette.
  • Vape pens: most of these are the size of a cigar and can be used with a variety of liquids and flavours. The battery will usually last longer and provide more vapour than a cig-a-like. Most vape pens require refilling from a bottle of e-liquid, but pre-filled capsules are also available.
  • Advance Personal Vaporisers or mods: these are larger and more powerful devices that offer more control and customisation but can seem complicated to a smoker switching for the first time. Mods are designed to deliver a large volume of vapour and have a longer battery life compared to vape pens and cig-a-likes. Many different flavoured liquids can be used.

Within these categories, there are many other variations and technologies continue to evolve and emerge.

E-cigarettes are not risk free. They deliver nicotine and they’re addictive. They’ are for adults who smoke – not for former smokers or for people who have never smoked.

Next Steps

Where to find more help and advice

Whatever the method, what matters most is quitting. An excellent resource is the National Health Service website, which provides information and support to help people stop smoking:

There is an NHS Stop Smoking Service: They have trained advisers as well as one-to-one and group counselling.

The NHS online chat is

The NHS Facebook page at

Many smartphone apps are available including the Stoptober app you can download from Help is also available from public organisations and charities.

If you prefer to talk to a trained adviser on the phone, then there are free helplines for anyone in mainland UK:

  • In England, call the National Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1044
  • In Scotland, call the Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84
  • In Wales, call the Help Me Quit Wales Helpline on 0800 085 2219