The vaping community has been given another boost after a study published by the prestigious British Medical Journal has said the growth of e-cigarettes in England has been associated with a higher rate of successful attempts to quit smoking.
Last year, e-cigarettes may have resulted in around 18,000 people becoming long-term tobacco quitters.
"Although these numbers are relatively small, they are clinically significant because of the huge health gains from stopping smoking," study authors Emma Beard, Robert West, Susan Michie and Jamie Brown said.
In a linked editorial, John Britton from the University of Nottingham said the results suggest "successful quitting through substitution with electronic cigarettes is a likely contributor to the falling prevalence of smoking".
Firm conclusions about cause and effect could not be determined from the research, the authors emphasised, which was compiled by data from monthly survey the Smoking Toolkit Study.
No clear evidence emerged for an association between e-cigarette use and rate of quit attempts, use of over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy, overall use of prescription treatment or use of NHS stop-smoking services.
The BMJ study is the latest in a line of research to come out in favour of e-cigarettes as a lesser evil when compared to traditional cigarettes because of the huge benefits to the public health burden that could emerge from a mass take-up of vaping.
Earlier this year, a landmark report from the Royal College of Physicians found e-cigarettes are not a gateway to traditional smoking and should be widely promoted as a substitute to e-cigarettes.