The electronic cigarette (e-cig) market has received another boost after a comprehensive study revealed just how effective the devices are at helping smokers to quit tobacco.

Smokers attempting to quit tobacco are approximately 60% more likely to succeed if they use e-cigs than willpower alone or other over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies.

The University College London (UCL) survey of 5,863 English smokers suggested that e-cigs could play a positive role in reducing smoking rates, UCL’s professor Robert West said.

“E-cigs could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking,” he said.

While the long term health impacts of e-cig usage were still not clear, any risks would still be ”much less than from smoking,”  West said.

He also debunked claims from some public health experts that widespread use of e-cigs could ‘re-normalise’ smoking.

“We are tracking this very closely and see no evidence of it. Smoking rates in England are declining, quitting rates are increasing and regular e-cig use among never smokers is negligible,” West added.

NJOY electronic cigarettes senior vice president Bo Ekberg welcomed the study. “The study’s authors have set a new standard for inquiry into the population-level effects of e-cigs and, in doing so, have provided cause for increased optimism that e-cigs can hasten the obsolescence of combustion cigarettes,” he said.

The e-cigarette market increased by 340% in 2013 to reach £193m and is expected to be worth £340m by 2015 according to Public Health England.