Campaigners welcome backing for e-cigarettes

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An anti-smoking group has welcomed a new report which concludes that electronic cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking and are beneficial to public health.

The study, by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, shows that use of electronic cigarettes is almost exclusively confined to former or existing smokers who use the device to cut down and quit smoking, and there is no evidence that vaping has re-normalised smoking.

Anti-smoking group Fresh says it is concerned that only around half of people understand electronic cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.

In the North East, there are also concerns that a recent survey by Fresh found over half – 54% – of smokers disagreed that electronic cigarettes are less harmful to health.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “There are many ways to help make quitting easier, but for smokers who find it hard to stop, the evidence is building that electronic cigarettes are a much safer option. We welcome this report.

“Tobacco is a product that kills half of lifelong smokers and this level of risk is not comparable to electronic cigarettes. But it is a concern too many smokers see electronic cigarettes as just as harmful.

“It is not the nicotine which kills so many people, but all the other poisons in tobacco, such as carbon monoxide.”

She added: “Stop smoking services in the North East also provide support to people using their own electronic cigarettes to quit.”

The report concludes that e-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health, smokers can be reassured and encouraged to use them, and they are much safer than smoking.