Find out how they work, what’s in them and why people use them in this factsheet all about e-cigs.


  • E-cigarettes are electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine but no tobacco.
  • They work by heating a nicotine solution with flavourings and propylene glycol and/or glycerine, which creates a vapour.
  • Smoking e-cigarettes is also called vaping, from the large amounts of vapour which are created.
  • E-cigarettes are being used more and more in the UK. About 2.8 million adults in Great Britain use e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes are usually used to cut down or help quit smoking.
  • As they contain nicotine, they are however still addictive.
  • The long term effects of using e-cigarettes are not yet known, but research shows the hazard is much lower than cigarettes.
'The current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking.'

Public Health England, 2015


  • E-shisha or shisha pens are electronic devices like e-cigarettes but do not contain nicotine.
  • There is not enough research on e-shisha at the moment to properly know its long term effects.
  • The batteries in e-cigarettes and e-shisha can leak and be harmful to inhale.