E-cigarettes are becoming a concern for many schools locally. They can be difficult to spot as they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavours.

It is vital that education professionals understand the risks associated with e-cigarettes. This guide provides information that will be useful and help you when guiding young people to make informed decisions.

What are E-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are also known as e-cigs, vape pens, vapes, vape sticks, personal vaporisers, mods, tanks, and e-hookahs.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid (or vape juice), often containing nicotine, propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine, water, and flavourings into a vapour that is inhaled by the user. E-cigarettes typically consist of a mouthpiece, battery, and cartridge or tank containing e-liquid solution. Using an e-cigarette is known as “vaping.”

Data on e-cigarettes

Globally, the use of e-cigarettes has become increasingly popular in recent years among adults and young people. Around 7% of the adult population in the UK use e-cigarettes, which is around 3.1 million vapers. Data on youth vaping in 2021 indicate that 9% of pupils aged 11-15 currently use e-cigarettes. This is increasing year on year. Anecdotal information locally suggests this trend is similar for Buckinghamshire. 

E-cigarettes: Useful facts for teachers

  • Uptake is influenced by many factors including peer pressure, the need to fit in with friends, curiosity, the influence of family members or friends who vape or smoke, and the misconception that it is harmless.
  • Children/young people buy e-cigarettes in shops, online, from friends, or given to them by others.
  • The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 prohibits e-cigarettes to be sold or given to anyone under the age of 18.
  • Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards monitor underage sales of e-cigarettes and work closely with Public Health Buckinghamshire to educate the public, parents, and children on the use of these products.
  • Information about retailers selling e-cigarettes to children/young people should be reported to Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards at or by calling 0300 999 6999.
  • Vaping an e-cigarettes the facts video 

Risks associated with e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking but can lead to nicotine addiction. They can increase exposure to harmful chemicals. Reported side effects include vomiting, nausea, coughing, shortness of breath, mouth irritation, and asthma. Defective products may catch fire or explode, leading to burns and injuries.

Risk of nicotine

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. It can affect brain development in young people, impacting their learning, memory, concentration, and mood, causing anxiety and depression. It can also lead to addiction and physical dependence. Children and young people may become dependent on nicotine more quickly than adults.

E-cigarettes and stop smoking services

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), NHS guidance for smokers, and the latest NICE guidance all support the use of e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are the most popular stop-smoking aid with an estimated 2.7 to 2.8 million adult users in 2020. Products containing nicotine are not recommended for young people, except for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to support smoking cessation for those aged 12 years and over.

Useful Resources


Resources for Buckinghamshire Schools

Vaping Poster A - The Facts 

Vaping Poster B - The Facts 

Vaping Leaflet- The Facts for Parents and Teachers 

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