Scientists at University College London, who conducted the study, found that smokers who spend time with e-cigarette users were 20 times more likely to try and ditch tobacco for good.
Over one in four cigarette smokers in the survey said they were regularly in close contact with e-cigarettes in the past year, with around a third (32.3 per cent) of those admitting they had tried to quit through vaping in the past year, according to the academic survey published in the BMC Medicine journal this week.
In comparison, around a quarter (26.8 per cent) of smokers who don’t have regular contact with vapers, tried to quit cigarettes in the same time frame.
The study used data provided by nearly 13,000 participants in the Smoking Toolkit Study, a research project about smoking habits in England.
Experts say the results should reassure the public on several misconceptions about vaping including that it discourages or doesn’t motivate smokers to quit and it has a negative impact on public health.
Dr Sarah Jackson, the study’s lead author, said: “It is becoming increasingly more commonplace for smokers to come into contact with vapers.
“Some concerns have been raised that this could re-normalize smoking in England and undermine smokers’ motivation to quit.
“Our results found no evidence that spending time with vapers discourages smokers from quitting.”
She added of the results: “A key factor driving these differences may be that smokers who are regularly exposed to e-cigarette use by others are more likely to use e-cigarettes themselves.
“When smokers’ own use of e-cigarettes was taken into account, exposure to other people using e-cigarettes appeared to have little impact on how motivated smokers were to stop, and whether they made a recent quit attempt.”
Earlier this year, Public Health England, reassured the UK’s three million vapers with research that showed e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than smoking tobacco.
Dr Jackson added the findings should further “help to alleviate concerns about the wider public health impact of e-cigarettes”.
Cancer Research UK’s tobacco control expert Kruti Shrotri said: ‘There hasn’t been much evidence about whether e-cigarettes might make smoking tobacco seem normal again.
“So it’s encouraging to see that mixing with people who vape is actually motivating smokers to quit.
“As the number of people who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking rises, we hope that smokers who come into contact with them are spurred on to give up tobacco for good.”