Vaping may help some people quit smoking cigarettes, but it's not harmless, so if you don't smoke, don't start vaping.
Key points about vaping
- Vaping products are a less harmful alternative to smoking for people who are looking to quit the habit and become smokefree.
- If you don’t smoke, don’t start vaping. Vaping is not harmless, so only do it to help you to quit smoking.
- The best thing you can do for your health is be smokefree and vape free.
- It is illegal to sell vapes to under-18s, vaping is banned in legislated smokefree areas and most advertising and sponsorship of vaping products is not allowed.
- 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.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the use of an electronic device that heats a liquid turning it into an aerosol (vapour) which the person inhales. Vape devices are also known as e-cigarettes or vapes. Vaping liquids often contain chemicals, flavours and nicotine. They do not burn tobacco or produce tar or carbon monoxide. Read about the different vaping devices here.
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 BUT there are still risks to your health from vaping. That means it's better to switch from smoking to vaping, but if you don't smoke, don't start vaping. Read here about how to best switch to vaping, to quit smoking and read the section below on the Side effects of vaping.
Avoid vaping if you are pregnant
The vapour contains cytotoxic (harmful to cells) and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals that can harm unborn babies. The best thing for the health of you and your baby is to quit smoking and if you don’t smoke, don’t vape while pregnant. If you are struggling to become tobacco free, there are safe treatments for use in pregnancy called nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Read about NRT here.
Seek support and advice through your local stop smoking service, doctor, midwife or Quitline, and talk to others who have successfully quit. Find support services here.
Image credits: Canva
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. By not vaping around children, you can also avoid them from starting vaping. There are worrying numbers of children who have started vaping but were not previously smoking. Read about How to talk to your kids about vaping.
Is vaping legal?
Vaping products manufactured from tobacco and heated tobacco products can be legally sold in New Zealand. However, under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 (the Amendment Act) most advertising of these products is banned and it is illegal to sell them to young people under the age of 18.
The Amendment Act strikes a balance between ensuring vaping products are available for smokers who want to switch to a less harmful alternative, and ensuring these products aren’t marketed or sold to young people.
The Amendment Act does this by regulating the safety of vaping products and placing controls on the marketing, advertising and promotion of vaping products. Read more about vaping law and policy here.
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 (NRT), other stop smoking medications or vaping.
No vaping device has yet been approved as an official stop-smoking medicine and although vaping’s much less harmful than smoking, it’s not harmless. So you should plan to eventually quit vaping too, but only when you know you won’t go back to smoking. A recent study shows that vaping is almost twice as effective as NRTs in helping smokers quit. If you decide to use vaping to quit smoking follow the tips below:
- plan to eventually quit vaping too but only when you know you won't go back to smoking
- stop smoking completely
- reduce the amount of nicotine in the vaping liquid over time
- keep getting behavioural support, such as through Quitline.
Vaping – the do's and don'ts
Side effects of vaping
There are short term and long term side effects to vaping. The most commonly-reported side effects are throat/mouth irritation, headache, cough, and nausea. These usually go away once vaping has stopped.
Although the long term side effects associated with vaping are not yet fully known, there is growing evidence to show that these products are not harm free. Read more here.
Nicotine is addictive and is in many vape products. the addiction to nicotine can make you feel irritable, restless, unable to concentrate, and most people experience cravings when they go without it. Having it takes away these symptoms, and this can keep you stuck in a cycle of addiction. Read more about nicotine and vaping.
If you or someone you know has experienced an adverse reaction to a vaping product, you should report it to the New Zealand Pharmacovigilance Centre as soon as possible. This will help the Vaping Regulatory Authority monitor the safety of notifiable products on sale in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Learn more about vaping
Don't get sucked in Information, resources and a quiz so you can make sure you don't get sucked into vaping, NZ
Bust the myths – take a quiz on vaping Vaping Facts, NZ
Learn about vaping Smokefree NZ
Why quit smoking? Health Navigator NZ
E-cigarettes and vaping Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ
Vaping - Some More Facts 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
- Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan Ministry of Health, NZ, 2022