VAPING has been given an emphatic thumbs-up by health experts after the first long-term study of its effects in former smokers.

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

Nicotine patches also appeared to be far safer than tobacco products, according to the analysis of saliva and urine samples.

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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 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.

Lead author Dr Lion Shahab, from University College London, said: “Our study adds to existing evidence showing e-cigarettes and NRT are far safer than smoking, and suggests there is a very low risk associated with their long-term use.

“We’ve shown the levels of toxic chemicals in the body from e-cigarettes are considerably lower than suggested in previous studies using simulated experiments. This means some doubts about the safety of e-cigarettes may be wrong.”

The Cancer Research UK-funded scientists studied 181 individuals including smokers and ex-smokers who used e-cigarettes or NRT for at least six months.