A new study funded by Cancer Research UK has indicated e-cigarettes are less toxic and safer to use than conventional cigarettes.
The study involved analysis of the saliva and urine of 181 people and was conducted by scientists at University College London.
It found former smokers who used e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy may obtain roughly similar levels of nicotine compared with cigarette smokers.
However, the use of these products for at least six months was associated with substantially reduced levels of carcinogens and toxins. Those who used both conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes did not show the same differences, which researchers say highlights that a complete switch is needed to reduce exposure to toxins.
“Our study adds to existing evidence showing that e-cigarettes and NRT are far safer than smoking, and suggests that there is a very low risk associated with their long-term use,” Dr Lion Shahab, senior lecturer in the department of epidemiology and public health at UCL, and lead author of the publication, said.
"We’ve shown that the levels of toxic chemicals in the body from e-cigarettes are considerably lower than suggested in previous studies using simulated experiments. This means some doubts about the safety of e-cigarettes may be wrong"
“Our results also suggest that while e-cigarettes are not only safer, the amount of nicotine they provide is not noticeably different to conventional cigarettes. This can help people to stop smoking altogether by dealing with their cravings in a safer way.”
At the start of this year, Ireland’s Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) acknowledged in a report that e-cigarettes had success in helping people quit smoking. It noted further study is needed into their clinical cost-effectiveness.
29% of smokers in Ireland currently use e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting smoking.