Electronic cigarettes have received a considerable amount of bad press over the last few years. However it isn’t all bad press.

A survey recently carried out among 5,863 smokers in England found that electronic cigarettes have helped people quit smoking. Participants of this study attempted to quit smoking using an e-cigarette without additional aid from medical prescriptions or professional support.

The journal Addiction published the research and commented that electronic cigarettes could be a positive influence in the battle to stop smoking and change public health, as well as save millions of pounds spent by the NHS on smoking related illnesses in the UK.

Leading the study was Professor Robert West from University College, London. Out of the participants, one fifth stated that by the end of the study they had quit smoking traditional cigarettes. The study concluded that e-cigarettes are 60% more effective than nicotine patches and chewing gum.

There is some concern still that the use of electronic cigarettes could re-normalise smoking. However, West stated this is being investigated and there is currently no evidence that this is the case.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco policy said: “E cigarettes may have a role in helping people to quit but while the rapid rise in their popularity suggests a real opportunity, the evidence for their effectiveness is so far limited.”

Cancer Research UK is currently funding research into electronic cigarettes. Smoking is the largest and most preventable cause of cancer. In the UK alone, it accounts for more than one in four deaths. It is very important people are helped to quit smoking, and if electronic cigarettes can help achieve this, it should not be ruled out as an option.

Although there is evidence to suggest e-cigarettes could be used to substantially improve health, the NHS’ Stop Smoking services remain the most effective method to quit. This illustrates the need for further electronic cigarette research as they could prove to be a viable alternative to tobacco.

Many who use an e-cig to quit smoking do continue to vape, using their e-cigarette as a recreational device.