E-cigarettes are a tool to help you quit smoking. They produce a heated vapour that you inhale, which is why using an e-cigarette is called vaping. Vaping may help some people quit smoking cigarettes, but it's not harmless, so if you don't smoke, don't start vaping.
- Vaping is a lot less harmful than smoking. This is because the health problems from smoking mainly come from inhaling tobacco smoke, not from the nicotine.
- Vaping is not harmless, so only do it to help you to quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start vaping.
- If you use vaping to help you quit smoking, stop tobacco smoking completely because even low rates of tobacco smoking are harmful.
- Only some vaping liquids have nicotine in them. Smokers who switch to vaping with nicotine-containing liquids are more likely to quit than those who vape with non-nicotine-containing liquids.
- Don't vape if you are pregnant. The liquid heated to produce the vapour in e-cigarettes contains chemicals that may harm your unborn baby.
- Vaping products and nicotine e-liquids are not subsidised, but if you are vaping to quit, Quitline will support you with a plan to help beat the smoking addiction.
Image source: Vaping vs smoking Health Promotion Agency, NZ
Is vaping safe?
Although more research is needed into the long-term effects, we do know that the risks of smoking are likely to be much greater than the risks of vaping. That means it's better to switch from smoking to vaping, but if you don't smoke, don't start vaping.
There are side effects to vaping. Use of e-cigarettes can cause headaches, dry mouth or throat, and throat or mouth irritation and eye irritation.
Avoid vaping if you are pregnant
The vapour contains cytotoxic (harmful to cells) and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals that may pose long-term risks, especially to women who are pregnant. The effects of vaping during pregnancy on feotal development have not been sufficiently studied. However, research from animal studies suggests it may be associated with some harm. Smoking should also be avoided during pregnancy.
Don't vape around children
Even though the nicotine in e-cigarettes poses little danger for adult smokers, it can be lethal (cause someone to die) if taken in large amounts. So, it’s important to keep e-cigarettes and e-liquids somewhere that children can’t reach.
Is vaping legal?
Vaping products manufactured from tobacco and heated tobacco products can be legally sold in New Zealand. However, under the Smoke-free Environments Act, 1990 advertising of these products is banned and it is illegal to sell them to young people under the age of 18.
Can I vape indoors?
The smoking ban in indoor workplaces only applies to smoked tobacco and does not apply to vaping or other products that are not smoked. Individual employers and business owners can decide whether they want to include vaping in their smokefree policies.
Is vaping an effective way to quit smoking?
There are a number of different ways to quit smoking: cold turkey (just stopping completely), nicotine replacement therapies, other stop smoking medications or vaping.
No vaping device has yet been approved as an official stop-smoking medicine, but it is a much less harmful way of delivering nicotine than burning tobacco. Vaping has helped many people quit smoking and is a legitimate way to become smokefree. A recent study shows that vaping is almost twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapies in helping smokers quit.
If you decide to use vaping to quit smoking:
- stop smoking completely
- vape with nicotine-containing liquids
- reduce the amount of nicotine in the vaping liquid over time
- keep getting behavioural support, such as through Quitline
- aim to stop vaping over time.
Vaping – the do's and don'ts
Support for quitting smoking
Quitline 0800 778 778 for phone, online or text support.
Learn more about vaping
Bust the myths – take a quiz on vaping Ministry of Health, NZ, 2019
Vaping facts Ministry of Health, NZ, 2019
Why quit smoking? Health Navigator, 2017
E-cigarettes and vaping Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ
- Encouraging smoking cessation BPAC, NZ, 2014
- Smoke and mirrors – is vaping useful for smokers who cannot quit? BPAC, NZ, 2018
- Position statement – vaping products Ministry of Health, NZ, 2018
- Hajek P, Phillips-Waller A, Dunja Przulj D. A randomized trial of e-cigarettes versus nicotine-replacement therapy N Engl J Med 2019; 380:629-637