E-cigarettes are a tool some people use to help them quit smoking. They produce a heated vapour that you inhale instead of smoking a cigarette. To work out whether this might help you, it’s useful to know more about them.
- Because e-cigarettes produce a vapour that you inhale, using an e-cigarette is sometimes known as vaping. The liquid heated to produce the vapour comes in different flavours and contains a chemical called propylene glycol. It sometimes has nicotine in it, but not always.
- The health risks of using e-cigarettes long-term are not known, so it is best not to use them except to help you to quit smoking. E-cigarettes seem to pose fewer health risks to smokers if you stop tobacco smoking completely.
Are e-cigarettes safe to use?
Short-term use of e-cigarettes can cause headaches, dry mouth or throat, and throat or mouth irritation and eye irritation. The vapour that e-cigarettes produce contains cytotoxic (harmful to cells) and carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals that may pose long-terms risks to women who are pregnant.
The health risks of using e-cigarettes long-term are unknown. It is only known that the risks of smoking are likely to be much greater. However, 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.
- Position statement — vaping products Ministry of Health, NZ
- E-cigarettes and vaping Asthma + Respiratory Foundation NZ
Are e-cigarettes legal to use?
In New Zealand, it is illegal to sell a smoking cessation product that contains nicotine, unless the product has been approved by MedSafe for use as a medicine. No e-cigarettes have been registered so far. However, it is legal for you to import up to three months’ supply of nicotine-containing products, such as e-cigarettes, for your own use. You cannot sell or supply them to anyone else.
The government is in the process of changing the law to make it legal to sell and supply nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid in New Zealand. If passed, the new law would allow sales only to those 18 years and over. It would also ban the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces and other areas where smoking cigarettes is banned. The earliest this law would come into effect is the middle of 2018.
Are e-cigarettes effective?
The research into the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping with quitting smoking has mixed findings and the quality of the evidence is low. This means that the Ministry of Health does not recommend e-cigarettes as a smoking-cessation tool. Instead, the Ministry recommends you use approved smoking-cessation medicines, such as nicotine replacement therapy and get help with breaking your smoking habit from services such as Quitline.
However, some people find e-cigarettes helpful. If you do, it’s important that you stop smoking completely and that you aim to stop vaping over time as well.
Quitline 0800 778 778 for phone, online or text support.