Nicotine makes the heart beat much faster. This can make you feel nauseous/sick the first time you use it. Nicotine is addictive and can be hard to stop using once you’ve started. Vaping is a lot less harmful than smoking but it doesn’t mean it’s harmless.
Vapes work by heating a solution (e-liquid) that typically contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and nicotine. This creates a vapour which is inhaled.
Vapes come in different shapes and sizes including:
Vape bars – these are shaped like a highlighter pen and are usually disposable, but sometimes rechargeable and refillable with e-liquid capsules
Compact pod devices – these are shaped like a flash drive or pebble and can be disposable or rechargeable and refillable with e-liquid capsules
Vape pens – these devices contain a ‘tank’ that you can fill with an e-liquid of your choice with a replaceable coil and rechargeable battery
Cigalikes – these are designed to look like cigarettes and can be disposable or rechargeable. E-liquids come in different nicotine strengths ranging from 0 mg/ml to 20 mg/ml and come in different flavours.
There are also more sophisticated customisable devices with variable power, but these are used more by people who have been vaping for a long time.
The vapour is inhaled then breathed out as a cloud. The size of the cloud depends on the device and e-liquid used.
How does it make you feel?
When you vape, the nicotine in the vape is what gives you the buzz. This feeling comes from a release of adrenaline which stimulates the body and causes your blood pressure and heart rate to increase, making you breathe faster. Nicotine also activates areas of your brain that are involved in producing feelings of pleasure and reward. If you haven’t vaped nicotine before, you might feel one or more of the following effects:
People who use nicotine regularly build up a tolerance to the immediate short-term effects so after a while you might feel:
increased ability to concentrate
temporary reduction in the urge to vape
Some of the side effects to vaping are:
dry mouth and throat
shortness of breath
mouth and throat irritation
Depending on the type of device and nicotine strength, the first effects begin within a few minutes and peak at 5 to 10 minutes after your first puff. The effects continue to increase while you use the vape and may carry on building for 5 to 10 minutes after your last puff, falling steadily over the next two to three hours.
Physical health risks
Nicotine vaping is recommended by the NHS as a way for adults to stop smoking. But it isn’t recommended for non-smokers, especially children and young people under 18.
Vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.
Smoking gives you nicotine by burning tobacco, which creates many harmful toxins that can cause serious illnesses including cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke.
Vaping gives you nicotine by heating e-liquid, which creates fewer toxins and at lower levels. In general, smokers who switch to vaping reduce their exposure to a wide range of toxic substances. This includes tar and carbon monoxide, very harmful compounds which are produced by cigarettes but not by vapes.
But vaping still exposes users to some toxins and we don’t yet know what the risks might be in the longer term.
Nicotine is an addictive substance which can be hard to stop using once you’ve started. Also, nicotine may be riskier for young people than for adults – there’s some evidence that in adolescence the brain is more sensitive to its effects. Nicotine is a toxin and poisoning can happen if larger doses are taken. Find out more about nicotine.
Nicotine vaping products are covered by regulations to protect users, including maximum nicotine strength and bans on certain ingredients. But some disposable vapes on sale are illegal and don’t meet UK quality and safety regulations. They might look like the real thing, but they aren’t so it isn’t possible to know what’s actually in them. Non-nicotine vapes are not covered by the same regulations as nicotine vapes and are not without risk.
Is it dangerous to mix with other drugs?
Mixing drugs is always risky but some mixtures are more dangerous than others.
What happens if I mix Vapes and
Select a drug
Can you get addicted?
Nicotine is an addictive substance and you can become dependent on vapes, especially if you vape nicotine regularly.
Giving up nicotine can be difficult because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms can include cravings, irritability, anxiety, trouble concentrating, headaches and other mental and physical symptoms. Find out more about nicotine.
Additional law details
In the UK it is illegal to sell nicotine vaping products to someone under the age of 18, or for adults to buy these products for them.