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 can also be expensive. 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.

Correction: January 14, 2013: The original version of this summary erroneously stated that Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo added, “The products are expensive.” The error, which we regret, has been corrected in the above synopsis.