ELECTRONIC cigarettes should not be paid for as part of Lancashire County Council’s £2.3million-a-year stop smoking service, senior councillors have been told.

Instead they should be used as a harm reduction tool, the authority’s director of public health Sakthi Karunanithi recommended.

The advice comes in a report on ‘A Tobacco Control Plan for Lancashire 2017-2022’ to be considered by the by county council’s cabinet tomorrow.

The strategy, ‘Towards a smoke-free generation’, covers the authority’s 12 boroughs including Hyndburn, Burnley, Ribble Valley, Pendle, Rossendale and Chorley.

Dr Karunanithi told councillors that in the county 16 per cent of adults smoke tobacco against a national average of 15 per cent and the target for England is reducing it to 12 per cent.

He estimated smoking kills 1,673 adults aged 35 and over every year in Lancashire.

Dr Karunanithi agreed with Public Health England that ‘electronic cigarettes were 'significantly less harmful than tobacco’.

He recommended: “Although they are not risk-free, they are a valuable harm reduction tool for smokers in the fight against tobacco use in the county.

“Although the council will support the role of e-cigarettes in smokers as a harm reduction tool, we have no plans to fund e-cigarettes as part of the stop smoking services.”