E-cigarettes have been found to be far safer than tobacco filled cigarettes by a long-term scientific study.

The research found that after six months, people who switched from real to e-cigarettes had far fewer toxins and cancer-causing substances in their bodies than continual smokers.

This is the first long-term research into the effects of vaping in former tobacco users.

British scientists studied 181 smokers, and ex-smokers who used e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy products such as patches for at least six months.

A third group who had continued to smoke at the same time as using e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement products were also analysed.

The study found that compared with full-time smokers, those using e-cigarettes had far lower levels of cancer causing toxins in their saliva and urine.

But there was little difference in levels between cigarette-only users, and those who continued using real cigarettes alongside vaping.

Nicotine patches also appeared to be far safer than tobacco products.

Some previous studies suggested that vaping is as harmful as smoking.

But experts hope these findings will reassure would-be quitters who have been confused by mixed messages about the safety of e-cigarettes.