e-cigaretteE-cigarettes are 95% safer than traditional smoking, Public Health England has reported.

The findings, published in an evidence update, support the use of e-cigarettes as an effective way to help people give up smoking.

The evidence update provides a follow-up to initial investigations carried out last year, and serves as a comprehensive review of up-to-date evidence ahead of the introduction of new e-cigarette legislation next year.

Its finding include:

  • E-cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but e-liquids should be in ‘childproof’ packaging
  • Although vaping is not 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals present pose limited danger. The current best estimate is that e-cigarette use is around 95% less harmful to health than smoking
  • E-cigarettes release negligible levels of nicotine into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders
  • There is an inaccurate perception that e-cigarettes as at least as harmful as cigarettes.

Following the publication of the report, Public Health England has suggested e-cigarettes may one day be available on the NHS as a possible aid to give up smoking. It also made a number of next step proposals to ensure e-cigarettes remain appropriately monitored. These include:

  • Continuing to monitor the evidence on uptake of e-cigarettes, the health impact and effectiveness for smoking cessation as products and technologies develop
  • Holding a second national symposium on e-cigarettes and harm reduction in spring 2016
  • Providing the public with clear and accurate information on the relative harm of nicotine, e-cigarettes and smoked tobacco
  • Commissioning the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training to provide support to stop smoking practitioners to improve their skills and confidence in advising clients on the use of e-cigarettes
  • Monitoring tobacco industry involvement in the evolving e-cigarettes market.