Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) have become a popular alternative to lighting up for those who want to kick the habit. But do they really help people quit? According to reports, an answer is on the way.

70 percent of smokers say that they want to quit, but studies show that a majority are unsuccessful. Going cold turkey, receiving counseling, and using nicotine patches are all methods that do work for some, but e-cigs have offered a glimmer of hope in the face of troubling statistics.

The reason? E-cigs address one of the most crucial aspects of cigarette addiction: the physical cues that prompt smoking. Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that look just like normal cigarettes. But instead of emitting the toxins that make smoking the deadly habit it is, e-cigs give off nontoxic nicotine vapors. These vapors, which can even come in flavors like vanilla, cherry and menthol, allow smokers to feed their nicotine craving without the harmful side effects.

Since their arrival on the market roughly ten years ago, there has been little scientific evidence to back up reports that e-cigs help smokers quit. But that's all about to change.

Two e-cig trials - one in Italy and another in New Zealand - are slated to report results this year. PLoS One will publish the Italian study, which observes 300 smokers trying to quit with e-cigs and tracks whether they quit smoking entirely, cut their cigarette consumption, or return to old smoking habits. The trial in New Zealand follows 657 smokers and places the data of smokers who used nicotine patches against the data of those who used e-cigs.

Finally, we'll know whether e-cigs are more than just hype.