Public Health Agency (PHA) advice to help people make informed decisions on e-cigarettes


Smoking tobacco is very harmful to health. The short and long term effects of smoking are well known and smoking remains the single biggest cause of early death in Northern Ireland. A typical smoker dies 10-15 years earlier than they would do if they didn’t smoke.

Recent reports published by Public Health England suggests that e-cigarettes are less harmful to health than smoking, but also recognise that the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes “vaping” are not yet fully known.

E-cigarettes are one type of nicotine replacement product; however they are not currently licensed for use as a medicinal quit aid, without the stringent quality and safety controls required, and are therefore not available through Stop Smoking Services in Northern Ireland.

Other nicotine replacement products include patches, gum, mouth sprays, tablets and lozenges. These products are licensed for use as medicinal quit aids and therefore tightly controlled for product quality and safety and have been proven to be effective in supporting successful quit attempts as part of a Stop Smoking programme.

These licensed medicinal quit aids can be made available, free of charge, to smokers wishing to quit smoking through Stop Smoking services in Northern Ireland. Details of local Stop Smoking services and other useful information can be found at

In non-smokers, e-cigarettes may create a nicotine addiction therefore, the safest option for people who have never smoked, or ex-smokers, is to not use e-cigarettes or tobacco-based cigarettes. ‘Don’t Smoke! & Don’t Vape!’

In summary…                       

  • The safest option for your health is to not smoke tobacco products at all -  If you do smoke, keep trying to stop and join the thousands of local people who have already successfully quit in Northern Ireland
  • The safest and most effective way to stop is with the support of a Stop Smoking service which can provide ongoing support and advice as well as regulated, licensed nicotine replacement therapy, if required. (see to find your nearest service)
  •  If you choose to use e-cigarettes as a means of stopping smoking, we would advise that you still seek the support of a Stop Smoking service
  • You may want to try stopping on your own and while many people succeed, you are four times more likely to quit for good if you get support from a Stop Smoking service, so consider using the free services available in your local area
  • The long term impacts of vaping are not yet known
  • If you don’t smoke or vape, keep it that way – don’t start and don’t let your children start!


Notes to the editor

In Northern Ireland there are more than 600 free Stop Smoking services which are run by specially-trained staff who can advise on the best way to stop smoking.

Services are offered in many community pharmacies, GP practices, HSC Trust premises, and community and voluntary organisations, and can be set up in workplaces. 

For more information on the services available and useful tips to stop smoking, visit the PHA’s ‘Want 2 Stop’ website at where you can also order a ‘Quit Kit’ free of charge which will help you plan your quit attempt. 

The PHA continues to keep its position on e-cigarettes under review.

Find out more at