Vaping may be helping more than 50,000 smokers quit cigarettes each year, research suggests.
A new study found that more people had turned to e-cigarettes since 2011 to help them quit smoking, with a corresponding finding that the success rates for quitting regular cigarettes went up.
Researchers funded by Cancer Research UK also found that when the increase in the use of e-cigarettes flattened off somewhat around 2015, so did the increase in quitting success rates.
The team, from University College London, estimated that, in 2017, 50,700 people in England reported they were no longer smoking after using e-cigarettes to help them quit.
The study used data on more than 50,000 people between 2006 and 2017 from the Smoking Toolkit Study, a series of monthly household surveys of people aged 16 and over in England.
Lead author Dr Emma Beard, senior research associate at UCL, said: “This study builds on population surveys and clinical trials that find e-cigarettes can help smokers to stop.
“England seems to have found a sensible balance between regulation and promotion of e-cigarettes.
“Marketing is tightly controlled so we are seeing very little use of e-cigarettes by never-smokers of any age, while millions of smokers are using them to try to stop smoking or to cut down the amount they smoke.”
George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK senior policy manager, said: “E-cigarettes are a relatively new product, they aren’t risk-free and we don’t yet know their long-term impact.
“We strongly discourage non-smokers from using them.
“But research so far shows that vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco and can help people to stop smoking, so it’s good that over 50,000 people managed to give up in 2017.
“For the best chance of quitting, get support from a stop smoking service, who can help you find the right tools for you.”
Vaping is dividing health experts, with Public Health England (PHE) saying e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than regular cigarettes.
But some researchers say PHE is wilfully ignoring mounting evidence that vaping is harmful.
The latest study was published in the journal Addiction.