Electronic cigarette safety information


An electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette, is an electronic inhaler that vaporizes a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking. This liquid solution often contains nicotine in variable amounts, although nicotine-free solutions are available.

Changes to the law

From 20th May 2017, vaping or e-shisha devices, and all refills liquids which contain nicotine will have to comply with new safety and labelling rules:

  • Producers and importers of e-devices and liquids must register them with a government agency before they are placed on the market and make sure they are supplied with safety instruction, warnings and contact details
  • Liquids that contain nicotine must be in either a dedicated container with a maximum 10ml volume or, for disposable single use e-cigarette cartridges, in a tank that has a maximum 2ml volume.
  • The liquid containers in devices and refills must be child-resistant, tamper-evident and be protected against breakage and leaking
  • The concentration of nicotine is restricted to 20mg/ml, unless the product is a registered medical device, and additives including colouring, caffeine and taurine are banned
  • Each pack and container must be labelled with 'This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance' in a prescribed format and size

For further information, see GOV.UK for consumer advice on e-cigarette regulations or Business Companion for business advice.

Poisoning risks

There is growing evidence that the liquid nicotine refills from e-cigarettes pose a significant poisoning risk to young children.

Nicotine is highly toxic through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact, especially for young children. Ingestion of only a tiny amount can be fatal. A bulletin circulated to GPs and pharmacists in Northern Ireland in January stated that less than 2mls can be fatal for an adult, and warns that it is very likely to be even less than this for a child.

We advise users of e cigarettes to keep nicotine-containing products away from children, especially very young children and toddlers, who are more susceptible to nicotine poisoning.

How to prevent nicotine poisoning in children

Like household chemicals, you need to keep e-cigarettes and cigarettes out of sight and out of reach of children by following the advice below:

  • store e-cigarettes in a high locked cupboard
  • do not use any nicotine products in front of children
  • keep handbags containing nicotine products out of reach of children
  • if you think your child has ingested or used any nicotine products, seek medical advice immediately

Sales to children

As of 1 October 2015 it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.

Exploding chargers

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute advise users that e-cigarettes should not be left charging for long periods of time or plugged in overnight or while you are out of the house.

How to stay safe

  • avoid leaving e-cigarettes charging overnight because they can overheat and they may catch fire
  • do not leave e-cigarettes unattended even when they are not 'alight'
  • exercise caution when you buy e-cigarettes because they are not regulated therefore it is unknown if they are safe
  • if you buy e-cigarettes, ensure that they are from a reputable UK retailer