Response to evidence review showing that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco

19 August 2015        

X ray lungs with smoke

A landmark review published today by Public Health England (PHE) has concluded that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit.

The expert independent evidence review found:

  • The current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking
  • Nearly half the population (44.8%) do not realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking
  • There is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes act as a gateway into smoking for children or non-smokers
  • There’s no risk to bystanders from e-cigarette use.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This comprehensive review of the evidence sends a clear message that switching to e-cigarettes will be far less harmful than continuing to smoke – a habit that will kill one out of every two long-term smokers. 

We know that more than 70% of smokers want to quit and these people should have as much support as they need to give up cigarettes for good. Good quality evidence like this is crucial if we’re to see a further drop in the number of people smoking in the UK. 

It’s reassuring to see that the current evidence shows that not only is there no risk to bystanders from e-cigarette vapour, but also currently that there is no indication that using e-cigarettes will encourage non-smokers or children to smoke. 

We shouldn’t forget that marketing has a powerful role to play as to whether non-smokers or children start to ingest addictive nicotine. The BHF and other organisations are funding research into e-cigarettes that will further improve our knowledge in this emerging area.”