Public Health England (PHE) estimated e-cigarettes could be contributing to 20,000 new quits each year.
The agency also said hospitals should sell e-cigarettes to patients and switch smoking shelters to vaping lounges.
Vaping only poses a fraction of the risk of smoking, experts from King's College London, the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, the University of Stirling and Cancer Research UK concluded.
Professor John Newton, director for health improvement at PHE, said: "Every minute someone is admitted to hospital from smoking, with around 79,000 deaths a year in England alone.
Vaping is safer than smoking and could lead to the demise of the traditional cigarette, Public Health England (PHE) has said in the first official recognition that e-cigarettes are less damaging to health than smoking tobacco.
The health body concluded that, on “the best estimate so far”, e-cigarettes are about 95% 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.
Enterprise Inns, big pub company has given the thumbs up to smoking electronic cigarettes at its bars.
The company has reached a deal with the leading suppliers Nicolites to sell e-cigs in more than 5,000 of its tenanted houses in the UK.
The government has confirmed e-cigarette use will not be banned in English pubs.
The Welsh Assembly government recently announced its intention to make vaping in enclosed public spaces illegal within two years - much to the chagrin of many pub industry officials.
However, the Department of Health has told the Publican's Morning Advertiser this week it has no intention of implementing a similar ban in England.
A number of pub operators including JD Wetherspoon and Fuller's have already banned the use of e-cigarettes on their premises.
This voluntary approach is largely favoured by the pub industry, rather than a blanket rule for all licensed premises.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, argued there is no logic behind a regulated ban since there is no evidence that vaping is harmful to a person's health.
She warned that a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in public places would be unnecessary and will "only increase the legislative burden already being placed on pubs and bars".
Ms Nicholls said vaping in licensed premises "should boil down to a matter of practice for the operator".
The move in Wales has also been criticised by a number of academics and anti-smoking campaigners, some of whom argue that e-cigarettes help people who are trying to quit smoking completely kick the habit.
Christopher Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, told the Telegraph that smoking among people who started out on e-cigarettes is "virtually non-existent".
Indeed, he said there is "no doubt that e-cigarettes have helped many people give up smoking and it is likely that the relative handful of young people who vape would be smoking if e-cigarettes did not exist".
Professor Robert West of University College London added in an interview with BBC News that the Welsh government has been misled by the "barrage of anti e-cigarette propaganda coming from public health activists with little knowledge or understanding of the evidence".
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: 'The number of ex-smokers who are staying off tobacco by using electronic cigarettes is growing, showing just what value they can have.
'But the number of people who wrongly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking is worrying.
Dr Nick Hopkinson, Honorary Medical Adviser to the British Lung Foundation, said: 'Smoking-related diseases kill 100,000 people in the UK every year.
'E-cigarettes are certainly far less harmful than normal cigarettes, so if people can switch completely from smoking tobacco to e-cigarettes that will be an important step to improve their health.
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