This page provides factual information on electronic cigarettes and includes links to further information and resources. A number of SFAC members have developed more detailed positions on electronic cigarettes and these are also linked to below.
What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are devices that allow users to inhale vaporised nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol or glycerine through a device which is sometimes shaped like a cigarette. Although nicotine is addictive, the harm caused by smoking is not from nicotine but from the smoke, which electronic cigarettes do not contain.
There are three main types of electronic cigarettes or vapourisers:
- Disposable products (non-rechargeable)
- An electronic cigarette kit that is rechargeable with replaceable pre-filled cartridges
- An electronic cigarette that is rechargeable and has a tank or reservoir which has to be filled with liquid nicotine.
How are electronic cigarettes regulated?
Currently electronic cigarettes are regulated by consumer product regulation. From April 2016, they will come under the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive, except for those products licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency as medicines. For more details on the two systems of regulation see the ASH briefing on electronic cigarettes, FAQs from the European Commission and MHRA: Nicotine Containing Products.
Who uses electronic cigarettes?
The latest data estimates that 2.1 million adults in Great Britain regularly use electronic cigarettes. To find out more about who uses electronic cigarettes, see the latest ASH factsheet and Professor Robert West’s latest research.
Further information and resources
ASH: Briefing on electronic cigarettes
ASH Scotland: Electronic cigarettes briefing
British Lung Foundation: Electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products to be regulated
British Medical Association: Electronic cigarettes
Cancer Research UK: Our policy on harm reduction and e-cigarettes and Cancer Research UK Briefing: Electronic Cigarettes
National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training: E-cigarette briefing
Information from other organisations
European Commission, Questions & Answers: New rules for tobacco products
MHRA: Nicotine Containing Products
Pharmacy Voice: E-cigarettes: evidence review and E-cigarettes: position paper
Public Health England:, Electronic cigarettes: evidence review, Electronic cigarettes: uptake and marketing evidence review and PHE Blog: E-cigarettes and harm reduction: where are we now and what next?
Smoking Toolkit: Electronic cigarettes in England - latest trends