In a new paper published by two researchers at the University of Michigan, the benefits of vaping as a way to quit smoking far outweigh the health risks youths face if they go from electronic to traditional cigarettes.

According to the study, which compares the possible risks of increasing smoking initiation with the potential benefits of increasing smoking cessation, nearly 3.3 million life-years could be saved by 2070.

Taking into account the possible roles of e-cigarettes in both smoking cessation and initiation, the research suggests more than 3.5 million life-years could be gained by using e-cigarettes to quit conventional cigarettes while 260,000 life-years could be lost due to additional vaping-induced smoking initiation by young people.

Kenneth Warner is a former dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is professor emeritus of public health and health management and policy at the university. Acknowledging the study’s findings, he told research news site Futurity, 

“I don’t think this paper resolves the argument once and for all. But we have to go with the best evidence available, the case is strong; the benefits outweigh the risks.”

Warner also noted the public health community must continue to make young people aware of the dangers of smoking to encourage a downward trend in smoking initiation.

Chemicals which could be damaging to health are the main concern keeping e-cigarettes in public health news cycles in the US. However there is solid evidence of the 7,000 chemical substances contained in traditional cigarettes which are proven to be harmful to health.

On this, professor Warner said,

“We are fortunate to know the risks of cigarette smoking, based on decades of epidemiological research.”

He added that it could take years before scientists uncover the full health impact of vaping.

“Meanwhile, we have a crisis on our hands. Five hundred thousand people are dying each year as a result of smoking. One out of six Americans remain as smokers.”

The study concludes with a sentiment highlighted by Public Health England in an evidence review published earlier this year.  Overall, the findings suggest what while e-cigarettes are not without health risks, they are less harmful than conventional cigarettes and when used instead of traditional cigarettes, they can reduce exposure to many toxicants and carcinogens thus reducing adverse health outcomes.

However, further research is needed and until then, the long-term effects of vaping on health will remain unclear.

The authors report their findings in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, which is published but by Oxford University Press.