A professor of public health has claimed that smoking rates would be dramatically reduced if misinformation wasn't being spread about e-cigarettes.

Massey University associate professor of public health Marewa Glover says that smokeless products like vapes are the key to reducing smoking rates, following a mere 0.6 per cent decrease in smokers over the past year.

"These new smokeless products that are much less harmful, they are like a flaming torch, you give everyone one of them, stand them at the top of the glacier and we would see it melt much faster," she said.

Glover was scathing about media claims that smoking rates had dramatically dropped, which she said was less than half a per cent per annum since anti-smoking campaigns were introduced 45 years ago.

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She cites the UK's drop in smoking rates as an example of how e-cigarettes are an effective tool for those trying to quit.

"The difference in the UK is their very different attitude in encouraging people to switch from smoking cigarettes to e-cigarettes," Glover says.

She proposes an incentive programme where those looking to quit would receive a voucher to use at vape shops, to subsidise the upfront costs of e-cigarettes - a barrier for those of lower socio-economic groups trying to quit.

Action on Smoking an Health programme manager Boyd Broughton says e-cigarettes have a part to play but are not the solution.

"It's not the magic bullet that is going to stop our population from smoking overnight," he said.

He was sceptical about the government testing these products and endorsing their health benefits when they were often manufactured by tobacco companies.

"If the ministry was going to test products for companies that are going to make money on it - I don't know how ethical that is."

The government announced in March they would legalise nicotine e-cigarettes by next year in an effort to decrease rates of smoking.

Public Health England has found e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than traditional tobacco.

- NZN