Vaping – the act of smoking e-cigarettes - just took a giant leap forward in its quest for public acceptance.
Public Health England (PHE), an agency sponsored by the UK's Department for Health, in a report published today has concluded that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than traditional smokes.
In addition, the report recognised their potential to help people quit smoking altogether, and says it anticipates the day when the NHS can prescribe medicinally regulated devices.
"E-cigarettes could be a game changer in public health, in particular by reducing the enormous health inequalities caused by smoking," one of the review's independent authors, Professor Ann McNeill from King's College London said.
According to the report, the problem is that close to half of the UK population (44.8 percent) isn't aware that vaping is less harmful than tobacco.
Conversely, a growing number of people think e-cigarettes are just as dangerous, if not more than the regular kind -- 22.1 percent hold this view in 2015, increase from 8.1 percent in 2013.
PHE hasn't said definitely that vaping is a healthy habit -- it's likely not risk free -- but it believes public perception could be discouraging smokers from trying e-cigarettes and, eventually, dropping the habit entirely.
"Local stop smoking services should look to support e-cigarette users in their journey to quitting completely," Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE, Professor Kevin Fenton said.
In October, legislation that will ban under-18s from buying e-cigarettes in the UK will be passed, in part because their long-term health effects are still unknown.