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Home > Your Health > Stop Smoking Support – Quit your way > E-cigarettes


For fast facts on e-cigarettes ASH Scotland have produced a handy guide (pdf)

E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are battery-powered devices that simulate the sensation of smoking. They generally consist of a mouthpiece, battery and cartridge. These devices heat a liquid to generate an aerosol, or a ‘vapour’, which you then inhale. The liquids typically contain flavourings, additives and nicotine. Because the liquid is heated and not burned and contains no tobacco, the nicotine is delivered without many of the thousands of chemicals which cause the significant harm and damage to the body.

Types of e-cigarettes

Cig-a-like’ products: Early models (First Generation) of e-cigarettes look like cigarettes in shape and size and sometimes referred to as ‘cigalikes’. They include both non-rechargeable disposable models and reusable models. Not many people use these types of products now.

‘Tank’ models or vape pens: An e-cigarette with a rechargeable atomiser – the part that vaporises the e-liquid) – and a tank which needs to be filled with an e-liquid.

Pod systems: These are small rechargeable devices, often shaped like a USB stick or a pebble and use e-liquid capsules. They are simple to use and to maintain.

‘Mods’, or advanced personal vaporisers: A more complex tank model which can be manually customised, for example by adjusting the power on the device.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

“E-cigarettes have been available for purchase for just over a decade in Scotland. They have become increasingly popular. Based on current evidence, vaping an e-cigarette is definitely less harmful than smoking tobacco”. NHS Health Scotland

E-cigarettes are not harmless but experts agree that vaping is definitely less harmful that smoking tobacco. Thus, it would be a good thing if smokers used them instead of tobacco. Using both e-cigarettes and smoking is not recommended as it does not reduce the harm from smoking tobacco. Ultimately, however we want people not to smoke or vape.

Key point to remember about e-cigarettes:

Vaping is not harmless but is definitely less harmful that smoking tobacco. Ultimately, we want to manage people away from vaping as well

E-cigarettes can help you to give up smoking.

If you vape it’s important that you do not modify your devices or products or use illicit substances in devices.

In the UK there is no evidence of e-cigarettes acting as a gateway to smoking in children. Almost all children who are vaping are also smoking or have smoked.

E-cigarette vapour is not toxic to by-standards

Can I get e-cigarettes through the NHS?

No, as none of the e-cigarette products currently on the market in Britain have been licensed as medicines, they cannot be prescribed by the NHS. E-cigarettes are regulated as consumer products under the UK Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Products like Nicotine Replacement Therapy (e.g. patches, gum, lozenges etc) and Champix® are available from the NHS as they are licensed to help people stop smoking.

Although we cannot supply e-cigarettes, we understand that many smokers are using them to cut down or stop smoking altogether. We want to help those who are using e-cigs to stop smoking the benefit from the additional support our services can offer.

Local Quit Your Way Community Services* offer support to anyone using an e-cigarette across Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Give them a call to find out more about support available in your area. Click here to find your local service.

*Note: This does not include our Quit Your Way Pharmacy Service.

Safety Advice

  • Store nicotine solution away from children and pets, as you would with any medicine
  • It is safe to use an e-cigarette with NRT. If you feel sick or dizzy, stop using the e-cigarette / use less frequently / move to an e-liquid with lower level of nicotine
  • Ensure you thoroughly wash hands if handling e-liquids
  • Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer carefully
  • Heed any warnings supplied with the product
  • Ensure that e-cigarettes are not left charging for long periods of time
  • Do not leave e-cigarettes plugged in overnight or whilst out of the house
  • Look out for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European Safety Standards.

Use of e-cigarettes on NHS grounds

The use of e-cigarettes is now permitted on our grounds in a bid to further cut smoking rates.

E-cigarettes can now be used on grounds by patients, visitors and staff. However, they cannot be used at entrances or exits to hospitals and other health facilities.

The newly updated Smokefree Policy ensures a consistent position about the use of e-cigarettes on hospital grounds and the e-cigarette friendly approach of smoking cessation services.

While they can now be used on grounds, e-cigarettes still can’t be used in buildings. Use is allowed anywhere on the grounds; however, people are being asked not to use them outside entrances and exits.

The type of e-cigarette permitted will be specified for inpatients (eg prefilled only).

Guidance will soon be made available regarding safe charging of e-cigarettes (specific restrictions for charging will apply for Mental Health inpatients).

We hope that the new policy will help change the behaviour of a small hardcore of people who continue to smoke on hospital grounds and especially around hospital entrances.