Electronic cigarettes

The image shows different types of electronic cigarettes against a plain background
Just some of the kinds of electronic cigarettes available

This page provides factual information on electronic cigarettes and includes links to further information and resources. A number of Coalition members have developed more detailed positions on e-cigarettes and these are also linked to below.

What are electronic cigarettes?

E-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 these devices do not contain.

There are three main types of e-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 these devices regulated?

Currently e-cigs are regulated by consumer product regulation. Since April 2016, they come under the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive (pdf), 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, FAQs from the European Commission and MHRA: Nicotine Containing Products.

Who uses electronic cigarettes?

The latest data estimates that 2.9 million adults in Great Britain regularly use e-cigarettes. To find out more about who uses them, see the latest ASH factsheet (pdf) and Professor Robert West’s latest research.

Further information and resources

Produced by Coalition members:

Produced by other organisations