There’s no reason to believe e-cigarettes are a gateway to actual tobacco, according to a new report out of the University of Victoria.

In fact, the opposite might be true.

Researchers conducted a comprehensive review of academic articles and said they found evidence that vaping is replacing, not encouraging, the use of traditional cigarettes among young people.

"Fears of a gateway effect are unjustified and overblown," principal investigator Marjorie MacDonald said in a release. "From a public health perspective, it's positive to see youth moving towards a less harmful substitute to tobacco smoking."

Combing through 170 relevant articles, the team said tobacco use among youths has actually been declining as vaping becomes more popular.

The UVic report, put together by researchers at the university's Centre for Addictions Research, also found "strong evidence" that e-cigarette vapour is less toxic than the smoke from cigarettes.

Vaping devices don't release tar, and the emissions only contain 18 of the 79 toxins found in cigarette smoke, according to the report.

And while tobacco smoke remains airborne for up to 20 minutes, researchers found e-cigarette vapour lingers for less than 30 seconds, causing less second-hand exposure.

“Many people think they are as dangerous as smoking tobacco but the evidence shows this is completely false," Tim Stockwell, director of the centre, said in a release.

That doesn't mean vaping is without risks, however; some devices produce levels of metals and particulate matter that are potentially concerning, the team said, and there hasn't been sufficient research into potential carcinogens.

The report, titled “Clearing the Air,” was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, an independent agency that's federally funded and accountable to the Ministry of Health.

To read the full report, click here