A new survey from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers School of Public Health shows that while smokers believe e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco, the devices should be regulated in a manner similar to tobacco products.

Assortment of e-cigarettes (Spencer Platt, Getty Images)

Olivia Wackowski, assistant professor of health education and behavioral science in the Center for Tobacco Studies at the School of Public Health and member of the Cancer Institute's Cancer Prevention and Control Program, said the survey found 60 percent of smokers think e-cigarettes are indeed safer than tobacco.

However, "nearly two-thirds of smokers didn't realize that e-cigarettes are not regulated by any government agency," Wackowski said.

The study surveyed 519 current smokers, including people who had tried e-cigarettes, those who had used them in the past 30 days, and some who had not used them before. All currently smoke tobacco or regular cigarettes.

"When we did tell smokers that (e-cigarettes) weren't regulated, we did find that the vast majority of smokers -- over 80 percent -- believe that they should be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for both quality and safety," Wackowski said. "This is something that is really important for the FDA to know, moving forward with their policymaking."

Over half (55 percent) of the survey respondents supported advertising restrictions on e-cigarettes, similar to those on tobacco.

"Since we know that advertising exposure is a risk factor for young people to uptake these products, this was encouraging to see support for some sort of advertising regulation," Wackowski said.

At this time, advertisements for other tobacco products are not allowed to be aired on television or radio.

Almost 90 percent of the smokers surveyed agreed that e-cigarettes should carry warning labels. The FDA is in fact considering extending its regulatory authority to cover e-cigarettes.

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