E-CIGARETTE suppliers in Oxfordshire have welcomed the results of the first ever long-term study of the effects of vaping in ex-smokers.

On Monday the results of a University College London study into 181 individuals, including smokers and ex-smokers, using e-cigarettes was published.

Compared with full-time tobacco smokers e-cigarette users had 97 per cent lower levels of a toxic chemical associated with lung cancer.

Bobby Hembrow, assistant manager at e-cigarette sellers 420 Skate Store in Cowley Road, said the results were no surprise but would probably lead to a spike in interest.

He said: "At this point it's generally accepted that this is a much safer alternative to smoking tobacco, which contains all manner of horrible chemicals.

"But any long-term study which ratifies what we have been saying for years will definitely bring in more custom."

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, also found that the levels of cancer-causing compound acrylamide were far lower in the bodies of e-cigarette users.

It recommended that to be safe it is necessary for smokers to switch over completely to e-cigarettes and not combine them with tobacco.

Mr Hembrow added: "Nine times out of 10 people who come in either have smoked in the past or are actively trying to give up smoking.

"I've been working in this shop for the better part of 18 months and it has got bigger since then. In terms of actual sales, it just won't stop."

Dan Greenall, who runs the Oxford Vapours chain in Headington, Witney and Abingdon, said he only felt comfortable selling e-cigarette paraphernalia to current smokers.

He said: "If someone who doesn't smoke asks for a vape I don't want to take their money. Vaping is not healthy, it's just healthier."

E-cigarettes and vaporisers are battery-operated devices that turn liquid nicotine into a vapour inhaled by users, and do not contain carbon monoxide or tar.

About 2.8m people in the UK use e-cigarettes compared to 10m still using traditional tobacco.

Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, a senior health behaviours researcher at Oxford University, said: "We still need more studies on the long term safety of electronic cigarettes.

"But this study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting electronic cigarettes are considerably safer than smoking regular cigarettes.

"Cigarettes are uniquely deadly and smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes or long-term use of NRT should remember that the harm from cigarettes comes from the tar, and not the nicotine."