"Taking a drag from an e-cigarette may be just as safe and effective as slapping on a nicotine patch for smokers struggling to quit, according to the first physician-run trial to compare the two products." That's according to research recently published in The Lancet (PDF) and reported by Bloomberg. Why is this significant? From the article: "If European and U.S. regulators treat e-cigarettes as medical devices, yet leave cigarettes on general sale, tobacco makers 'will retain their market monopoly, and we will never learn whether e-cigarettes would replace traditional cigarettes if allowed to continue evolving and competing with smoked tobacco on even terms,' [wrote clinical psychology professor Peter Hajek]. The results will also be presented today at the European Respiratory Society’s annual meeting in Barcelona. E-cigarettes have taken Europe and the U.S. by storm. In France, there are more than 1 million regular users, according to a government-commissioned report published in May. Sales worldwide will probably approach $2 billion by the end of this year and top $10 billion by 2017, according to a forecast by Wells Fargo & Co."