Data published by University College London (UCL) showed that quitting success reached 20% for the first six months of this year, compared to the average of 16% over the last decade.
Experts said there had ‘never been a better time to stop smoking’. The data comes at the launch of the annual Stoptober campaign, a ‘mass quit’ event that supports people to give up smoking.
This year will see TV adverts run as part of the Stoptober campaign - now in its sixth year - backing e-cigarettes for the first time.
Last year, 53% of those taking part in Stoptober opted to use e-cigarettes as a quitting aid. Campaigners hope that endorsing e-cigarettes will help convince and support more people to quit the habit.
Deputy chief medical officer Professor Gina Radford said: ‘The battle against smoking is far from over – it is still the country’s biggest killer, causing 79,000 deaths a year. And for every death, another 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease.
‘Far too many people are still dying as a result of smoking but there has never been a better time to quit – the culture has changed, strong legislation is in place and effective support is available.’
Professor John Newton, PHE director of health improvement said: ‘E-cigarettes are now the most popular way to quit in the country with half of all those taking part in Stoptober last year using an e-cigarette.
‘The evidence is clear – vaping is much less harmful than smoking – a fraction of the risk. So if you’ve struggled with quitting before, an e-cigarette may be the best option for you.’
The Stoptober campaign begins on 1 October and runs throughout the month.