Researchers who have compiled a report for Public Health England say vaping could make a huge difference in persuading people to quit cigarettes.
Tameside GP Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chairman of British Medical Association, said: “I agree e-cigarettes may have contributed to the decrease in smoking habits. There is no doubt that e-cigarettes have rapidly become the most widely used quitting aid.
“Despite making great strides to reduce smoking, tobacco is still one of biggest killer.It is widely recognised that the health risks associated with e-cigarette use are significantly lower than the well-established risks associated with smoking tobacco.
“It is encouraging that Public Health England has conducted this long-called-for review, to enable an informed debate around the use of e-cigarettes. Whilst we know that they emit fewer toxins, we still do not know what effect they have on health in the long-term.
It is vitally important that e-cigarettes do not become a glamorous accessory and act as a catalyst for children wanting to mirror adult behaviours.”
In spite of the fall in participation, the success rate of the Stop Smoking NHS service in Greater Manchester went up last year with 39.1 per cent of people saying they had managed to quit by their target date.
The Director of Public Health for Greater Manchester, said: “The number of people resorting to e-cigarettes as a way to either cut down or stop smoking independently has undoubtedly impacted on the numbers using the NHS Stop Smoking service.
“We have also seen wide-scale behaviour change after the public smoking ban in 2007 that reduced the number of smokers – and we are also seeing far fewer young people begin the habit than in the past.
“However, this should not detract from the fact that smoking-related illness remains one of the major health issues in our society and one of the biggest killers – and the city is committed to tackling this public health challenge.”
The centre received the data from each local council in Greater Manchester, who commission the Stop Smoking Service.