E-cigarettes do not help smokers quit tobacco, a major study has concluded.

Researchers found that those who use "vaping" gadgets are in fact 28 per cent less likely to give up traditional cigarettes. The findings are a blow to health officials in England, who have insisted that e-cigarettes are a key tool to reducing smoking rates.

The study, led by the University of California San Francisco, reviewed 38 previous studies assessing the link between e-cigarette use and cigarette cessation among adult smokers.

Published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal, it concluded that e-cigarettes do not help smokers quit. Author Dr Sara Kalkhoran said they should not be recommended for the purpose until there is solid proof that they do.

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Public Health England, in a landmark report last summer, claimed that e-cigarettes are "95 per cent" safe and called for the devices to be available on the NHS.

While most experts agree vaping is far safer than smoking tobacco, many are concerned about unresolved safety concerns. The World Health Organisation has warned that they may be toxic to bystanders, and the Welsh government is planning to prohibit the practice in restaurants, pubs and offices.

- Daily Mail