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  1. ITV Report

Islanders welcome study that shows vapes are less harmful than cigarettes

Photo: PA

Islanders who use e-cigarettes instead of smoking are welcoming news that they are much less harmful than regular cigarettes.

It comes after the first long-term study of its effects in ex-smokers.

After six months, people who switched from real to e-cigarettes had far fewer toxins and cancer-causing substances in their bodies than continual smokers, scientists found.

Alan Wilson, gave up smoking two years ago after switching to a 'vape'. He told ITV News, since making the switch he feels healthier.

There was a friend of mine that started vaping and he was on 40 cigarettes a day at the time and he stopped.

So because he did it, I had a go and it's worked.

I've had 3 cigarettes. When I started vaping I had one that night, I had one the next night and then one the next night.

I didn't finish that one and that was 2 years ago. I haven't touched a cigarette since.

– Alan Wilson, e-cigarette user
Credit: PA

Experts hope the findings will reassure would-be quitters who have been confused by mixed messages about the safety of e-cigarettes.

Some previous studies suggesting that vaping is as harmful as smoking have little in common with real-world experience, it is claimed.

The new findings also show that to be safe it is necessary for smokers to switch over completely to e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy.

Study participants who failed to make a clean break still had significant amounts of tobacco-related toxins in their saliva and urine.

"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. "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."

– Lead author Dr Lion Shahab, from University College London

The Cancer Research UK-funded scientists studied a total of 181 individuals including smokers and ex-smokers who had used e-cigarettes or NRT products such as patches and nasal sprays for at least six months.

A third group had continued to smoke at the same time as using e-cigarettes and NRT products.

Compared with full-time smokers, e-cigarette-only users had 97% lower levels of one toxic chemical, NNAL, that is strongly associated with lung cancer.

But there was little difference in NNAL levels between cigarette-only users and those who both smoked real cigarettes and vaped e-cigarettes.

Other substances called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including highly carcinogenic acrylamide and cyanide-releasing acrylonitrile, were also far less present in the bodies of e-cigarette users.

"Around a third of tobacco-caused deaths are due to cancer, so we want to see many more of the UK's 10 million smokers break their addiction. "This study adds to growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco, and suggests the long term effects of these products will be minimal."

– Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK