With cigarette prices nearly doubling this year， many smokers have turned to electronic cigarettes to quit smoking.
But experts are questioning the safety and effectiveness of this alternative to lighting up.
Connie Kim has more.
Smokers who think electronic cigarettes are a healthy way to quit smoking…may want to think again.
In a statement released Monday by Korea′s National Evidence－based Healthcare Collaborating Agency，…experts and doctors agreed that e－cigarettes could cause significant harm，…and may not help smokers butt out.
The agency says that cancer－causing substances are still present in e－cigarettes， although at lower levels.
In addition，… harmful constituents not permitted in regular cigarettes could be included in e－cigarettes.
And，…it′s still difficult to tell how much nicotine e－cigarette smokers inhale.
Finally，…the agency determined that it′s not appropriate to promote e－cigarettes as an answer for people who want to quit smoking.
″Under the Korean law， electronic cigarettes are considered cigarettes.
Until comprehensive research proves that e－cigarettes are harm－free and contribute to quitting smoking， nicotine patches or chews that are scientifically proven to be safe should be promoted.
However， e－cigarette businesses say their products are effective quitting devices.
″We′ve seen many smokers quit smoking after switching to electronic cigarettes.
Also， if we compare the number of harmful substances in cigarettes and electronic cigarettes， the latter is much less.″
According to EuroMonitor International， the global market size for e－cigarettes was 7－ billion U.S. dollars last year.
The Korean market grew to 27－point－7 million dollars in 2014.
″Experts say more research is required to conclude whether electronic cigarettes are truly harmful and whether they are effective in quitting smoking， but the World Health Organization urges countries to implement tougher controls on all products， including e－cigarettes， that may promote smoking.
Connie Kim， Arirang News.″