HALF of North-East smokers used an e-cigarette in an attempt to quit smoking last year, new research shows.

The study comes as thousands of smokers attempt to quit on No Smoking Day today (Wednesday, March 9).

The Smoking Toolkit Study from University College London revealed that e-cigarettes have overtaken licensed nicotine replacement therapies such as NRT, gum or skin patches as the most popular form of support to stop smoking.

A recent poll of smokers and vapers in the North-East for No Smoking Day showed that 72 per cent of all e-cigarette users have now given up smoking completely.

The poll also highlighted:

- Nine in ten of e-cigarette users say they are using them as a quit aid to stop smoking tobacco

- Three quarters of all e-cigarette users would like more research to be done into the potential risks of using e-cigarettes

- 17 per cent of all smokers polled said they are confused about the health messages they get around e-cigarettes

Professor Robert West, professor of Health Psychology at UCL, said: “The impact of e-cigarettes on public health at present comes from attracting people who would otherwise have tried to stop without any useful form of support. We estimate that e-cigarettes have probably helped around 20,000 smokers to quit.2

“We can do much better in encouraging more smokers in the North-East to try to stop and ensure that they are well informed about the best ways of succeeding.

"The strongest evidence is for use of a prescription medicine plus specialist behavioural support but e-cigarettes can be helpful for smokers who do not want to use professional support.”

According to Public Health England, vaping is probably around 95 per cent safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.

To receive information and support on stopping smoking visit nosmokingday.org.uk.