Figures showing that electronic cigarettes may not encourage people to start smoking, as had been feared, make welcome reading, said MEP Paul Nuttall.

“Those opposing e-cigs have argued that that they would provide a gateway to smoking, particularly for young people, but this new data shows a country situation.

“These first official UK figures, which emanate from the Office for National Statics for 2013, indicate those who use e-cigarettes are almost entirely current or former smokers,” said Mr Nuttall, UKIP deputy leader.

“I have always maintained that they are a useful aid for helping smokers quit and could save thousands of lives a year. I am glad that these figures seem to back this up and I think that when the figures for this year emerge they will further confirm this.

“The number of adults who smoke has fallen to 19%, with fewer taking it up and more quitting. That is great news and if e-cigs are helping that more healthy situation it should be welcomed,” he said.

From 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is expected to license e-cigarettes as a medicine in the UK.

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