By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) are relatively new — they heat and vaporize a solution containing nicotine and are designed to look and feel like cigarettes. Without smoke, the thought is that they are potentially safer and could help smokers to quit.

The World Health Organization has looked at this and measured awareness and use of e-cigarettes among 5,939 current and former smokers in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Almost 8 percent of respondents had tried e-cigarettes. Of these, 79.8% reported that they considered them less harmful than traditional cigarettes, and 75.4% were trying to reduce their smoking.

This is all excellent information because it gives us a profile of who is using the cigarettes. The question is if they are safe and the concern is that they may even fuel addiction.

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