Electronic cigarettes have helped almost nine out of ten smokers quit tobacco completely, new research shows.
They are so effective that more people give up their habit than intend to when they start using them. The findings contradict fears that the battery-powered devices would merely increase users’ intake of nicotine as they sought ways to sidestep smoking bans. However, with use of e-cigarettes rising sharply in Britain, experts said more research into their long-term effects was ‘clearly needed’.
Prof John Britton, from the Royal College of Physicians, warned: ‘The more reputable companies are manufacturing to the same standard as the pharmaceutical industry but many are just imported blind from other countries.’
An estimated 700,000 people in Britain use the devices and the figure could hit 1million by the end of the year. In the US, e-cigarettes are expected to outsell conventional cigarettes within a decade.
The latest international study showed 86 per cent of users had not smoked in the weeks or months since they started using the devices. That outstripped even the 75 per cent who said they switched with the intention of giving up. Just six per cent of people relied on the devices to avoid smoking restrictions in pubs and other places.
University of East London researcher Lynne Dawkins said: ‘We know that the majority of people reported great health benefits – a reduction in coughing and improved breathing, for example.’ However, Prof Britton said: ‘We don’t know what else is in the vapour. There are other chemicals which allow the nicotine to form droplets, disperse the nicotine, and we don’t know how harmful these solutions are.’