Electronic cigarettes are "less harmful" than conventional cigarettes, should face less stringent regulations and could play a role in reducing instances of smoking-related deaths, according to an international team of scientists. Their findings were published in a journal called 'Addiction.'

The team analysed a total of 81 different studies on the use and sale of e-cigarettes, focusing on issues such as toxicity, safety concerns and the rate of use amongst both smokers and non-smokers.

According to their findings, e-cigarettes pose less risk to users, as well as to passive bystanders, than traditional tobacco cigarettes. They can also help smokers to cut down their smoking habits or quit smoking altogether. In addition, the scientists warned that tough regulation of the e-cigarette market could have a detrimental effect on public health.

"Regulators need to be mindful of crippling the e-cigarette market and by doing so failing to give smokers access to these safer products that could save their lives", explained Professor Peter Hajek.