E-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health according to a Royal College of Physicians report.
The report said smokers can be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are "much safer" than smoking.
The Royal College of Physician's report titled Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction examines the science, public policy, regulation and ethics surrounding e-cigarettes and other non-tobacco sources of nicotine.
The medical body's report concluded that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking. In the UK, use of e-cigarettes is limited almost entirely to those who are already using, or have used, tobacco.
Meanwhile, E-cigarettes do not result in normalisation of smoking - there is no evidence that either nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or e-cigarette use has resulted in renormalisation of smoking.
E-cigarette use is likely to lead to quit attempts that would not otherwise have happened, and in a proportion of these to successful cessation.
However, the report warned that while there is possibility of "some harm" from long-term e-cigarette use, the effects are likely to be small in comparison with tobacoc.
The report concluded while it is not possible to estimate the long-term health risks associated with e-cigarettes precisely, the available data suggest they are unlikely to exceed 5% of those associated with smoked tobacco products.
There is also a need for proportionate regulation, but suggests that regulation should not be allowed significantly to inhibit the development and use of harm-reduction products by smokers, the report urged.
Professor John Britton, chair of the RCP's Tobacco Advisory Group, said: "The growing use of electronic cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco smoking has been a topic of great controversy, with much speculation over their potential risks and benefits.
"This report lays to rest almost all of the concerns over these products, and concludes that, with sensible regulation, electronic cigarettes have the potential to make a major contribution towards preventing the premature death, disease and social inequalities in health that smoking currently causes in the UK.
"Smokers should be reassured that these products can help them quit all tobacco use forever."
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