Cancer patients who smoke e-cigarettes are more dependent on nicotine and less likely to quit smoking than non-users, a new study finds.

A lot has been said about how e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to normal cigarettes and how they can help curb smoking habits and aid a smoker to quit smoking. Many studies have found contradictory associations and a new study by researchers from the American Cancer Society supports the theory that e-cigs are not the solution to curbing smoking habits.

A study conducted on cancer patients who smoked found that e-cigarette users were more dependent on nicotine and less likely to quit smoking compared to non-users. The researchers examined 1074 cancer patients who smoked and were enrolled between 2012 and 2013 in a tobacco treatment program within a comprehensive cancer center.

Researchers noted that e-cigarette usage increased from 10.6 percent in 2012  to 38.5 percent in 2013, which is a three-fold increase in a matter of 12 months. Researchers found that at the start of the study, e-cigarette users were more nicotine dependent than non-users, had more prior quit attempts, and were more likely to be diagnosed with lung or head and neck cancers. After a follow-up study was conducted, it was observed that -cigarette users were just as likely as non-users to be smoking.

"Consistent with recent observations of increased e-cigarette use in the general population, our findings illustrate that e-cigarette use among tobacco-dependent cancer patients has increased within the past two years," said Jamie Ostroff of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, in a press statement. "Controlled research is needed to evaluate the potential harms and benefits of e-cigarettes as a potential cessation approach for cancer patients. In the meantime, oncologists should advise all smokers to quit smoking traditional combustible cigarettes, encourage use of FDA-approved cessation medications, refer patients for smoking cessation counseling, and provide education about the potential risks and lack of known benefits of long-term e-cigarette use ."

The safety of using e-cigarettes has been the subject of many heated debates lately. While many argue that the device may help smokers kick the habit, others worry that it might keep smokers hooked and attract a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Very recently, the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration proposed the first set of e-cigarette rules in an attempt to curb the growing trend, which has raised serious concerns worldwide. The new rule will ban the sale of new tobacco products like e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and nicotine gels to minors.

In September 2013, the CDC announced that the percentage of high school students who had tried e-cigarettes had more than doubled within a year, from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012.

Poison centers across the country have reported a sharp increase in nicotine poisoning, particularly of small children. According to the CDC, calls increased from just one in September 2010 to 215 in February 2014, with more than half involving children under 5.

Earlier this month, a group of Democrats in Congress released a report accusing e-cigarettes manufacturers of aggressively targeting minors with marketing tactics that would be illegal if used for traditional cigarettes.

Findings of the current study were published online in the journal Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.