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What is it?

Vapes are electronic devices used to heat a liquid chemical to produce a vapour for inhaling. This is commonly called vaping. Most often the liquid within the device will contain nicotine, but can also be used to inhale other drugs (such as THC, found in cannabis). Some liquids contain no drugs but are still made up of complex chemicals that often can go unapproved by health officials before being retailed. These liquids come in a wide variety of flavours and sweeteners.

Vapes can resemble a variety of objects including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or everyday items such as pens, USB memory sticks, and larger cylindrical or rectangular devices. Vapes and e-cigarettes are also known as pens, pods, Jul, e-hookah, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), and smartsmoker.

The liquids contained within a vape are first heated within their electronic devices into a vapour which is then inhaled.

What are the effects?

Depending on the liquid used and the chemical or drug contained, the effects of what is vaped can change.

  • Mild stimulation
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Increased ability to concentrate
  • Relaxation
  • Eased cravings for tobacco
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Tingling or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Reduced appetite, stomach cramps, vomiting
  • Memory impairment
  • Slower reflexes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • An increased heart rate
  • Mild anxiety and paranoia


Too much nicotine from vapes can cause nicotine poisoning – which is just as bad as it sounds. Symptoms can vary, but include sweating, racing heart rate and increased blood pressure, shaking and vomiting – so, solid pass on that! Knowing the signs of overdose helps keeps us and others safe, and when we might need to call an ambulance. Watch out for these symptoms and call 000 in an emergency.

Mixing with other drugs

Depending on what chemical is in your vape, there will be particular interactions to watch out for. Look at the tobacco and cannabis sections for what these interactions are.

HIV Medications

The interactions between vaping and antiretroviral medications are not well known. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that vaping directly reduces the efficacy of antiretroviral medications. If some new research comes to light, then we’ll update this section and let you know. If vaping weed or nicotine, best to check these sections for any interactions with HIV medications.

The interactions between vaping and PrEP and PEP are not well known. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that vaping directly interacts with these medications or reduces their efficacy. We’ll keep looking and update you if any new research comes to light.

To learn about the interactions between specific HIV medications and vaping head to Liverpool HIV Drug Interactions Checker.


There’s currently no evidence to suggest that vaping directly reduces the efficacy of HRT. We’ll keep looking and update this information if something new comes to light.

The interactions between vaping and HRT are not well known. Due to the possible overlap with tobacco, check out the interactions section for related information.

For more information about vaping head to the Australian Drug Foundation

The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way.