A new report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has supported the idea that e-cigarettes are a healthier option to smoking cigarettes.
Figures suggest that nearly three-quarters of smokers want to quit their habit, but there are still more than eight million people in the UK who smoke.
First introduced in 2007, e-cigarettes have divided expert opinion on the associated risks and whether the potential benefits would outweigh them. However, the report looks at the factors affecting e-cigarettes including public policy, regulation and ethics.
It also suggested that e-cigarettes are more likely to lead to people trying to stop smoking, and have a minimal risk of causing long-term harm, which is substantially smaller than the health risk posed by tobacco use.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said stopping smoking was the "single best thing" to improve the health of their heart, as it can cause heart disease, respiratory disease, and many cancers.
According to the RCP ‘Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction’ report, e-cigarettes could help smokers stop and would reduce the risk to their health. Their findings also say people can be "reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking".
The report found that e-cigarettes do not act as a gateway to smoking, with the vast majority of users being people who already smoke or who have smoked previously. It also revealed that smoking is not being normalised through the devices.
Professor John Britton, chair of the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group, said the report "lays to rest almost all concerns about the "growing use of electronic cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco smoking".
He explained that sensible regulation could allow electronic cigarettes to make a major contribution towards preventing the premature death, disease and social inequalities in health that smoking currently causes in the UK.
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