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.

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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.

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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.

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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.