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Tobacco manufacturers are moving into the manufacture and sale of electronic cigarettes, according to CNBC. The business, which brought in $400 million to $500 million in sales in 2012, is expected to at least double this year, one expert predicts.

“We’re actually predicting that consumption of e-cigs could surpass consumption of traditional cigarettes in the next decade,” said Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo. Last year, tobacco giant Lorillard paid $135 million for the e-cigarette company Blu, while RJ Reynolds created its own e-cigarette brand.

E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine in the form of a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. They usually have a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge with nicotine or other chemicals and a device called an atomizer that converts the contents of the cartridge into a vapor when heated. E-cigarettes often are made to look like regular cigarettes.

John Cameron, CEO of the e-cigarette company Safecig, says people who want to quit smoking often are not satisfied by using nicotine gum or patches, because they miss the act of smoking.

E-cigarettes do have potential downsides, Herzog notes. She says some critics are concerned there could be potential health risks. The products are expensive, she added. One e-cigarette made by the company Njoy cost almost $9 at a California convenience store. The product claims to be the equivalent of two packs of cigarettes.

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