Smokers in the UK could be prescribed e-cigarettes to help them kick the habit, after they were approved as a healthier alternative by the UK's public health body.

The surprising decision comes despite Public Health England (PHE) having previously criticised e-cigarettes as a gateway to tobacco use.

Now PHE is saying that vaping is safer than smoking and could lead to the demise of the traditional cigarette.

The health body has said in the first official recognition that e-cigarettes are less damaging to health than smoking tobacco.

PHE concludes that, on "the best estimate so far", e-cigarettes are about 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and could one day be dispensed as a licensed medicine in an alternative to anti-smoking products such as patches.

Al Jazeera's Sonia Gallego reports from London.

Source: Al Jazeera