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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Should electronic cigarettes be a new option for smokers trying to kick the habit? Reactions from Americans are mixed.
More than half of people questioned in a poll think electronic cigarettes should be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but 47 percent believe the devices should be available to smokers who want to quit.
"In the hunt for a safer cigarette, electronic cigarettes, often referred to as ecigarettes, are becoming a popular option among those either trying to quit or who are looking to replace standard tobacco smoke with an alternative that manufacturers claim to be safer," Zogby International, which conducted the poll, said in a statement.
About half of the 4,611 adults who took part in the poll had heard about ecigarettes, which are battery-powered, or rechargeable devices that vaporize a liquid nicotine solution. They do not produce smoke but an odorless water vapor.
Sold mostly on the Internet, ecigarettes were first made in China. Last year the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against using electronic cigarettes, saying there was no evidence to prove they were safe or helped smokers break the habit.
The WHO said people who puff on ecigarettes inhale a fine mist of nicotine in the lungs.
Nearly a third of people questioned in the poll think that e-cigarettes, because they don't produce smoke, should be allowed in places where smoking is forbidden, but 46 percent disagreed.
Men who were aware of the availability of ecigarettes were more likely than women to say they should be an option available to smokers who want to quit.
Young people, aged 18-29, and singles were the groups most open to trying electronic cigarettes.
Tobacco is the single largest cause of preventable death worldwide, according to the WHO.