The fast growing electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) market could receive a further boost after a high-profile report advised healthcare professionals to present it as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products.

While e-cigs are not regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), meaning their safety and quality cannot be guaranteed, smokers should be told e-cigs are “likely to be less harmful” than cigarettes, the report by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence said.

The MHRA is expected to make a decision on the licensing requirements of electronic cigarettes in early 2013.

Last month a study into electronic cigarette vapour by Informa Healthcare determined that they posed “no significant risk” of harm to human health.

Electronic cigarettes are now thought to be used by almost 10% of all UK smokers, and a recent online poll by Convenience Store revealed that 67% of readers said they now stock them.

Matt Gibbons, of Gluggles off-licence in York, told C-Store: “My sales of e-cigs are increasing by almost 30% a month.”