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Leading Cancer Groups Call for Regulation of E-cigarettes and Research on Health Risks

Jan 20, 2015

Two leading cancer research and treatment organizations have called on the federal government to regulate "electronic nicotine delivery systems" – e-cigarettes – and increase research on their health effects.

In a joint statement, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move quickly to finalize proposed regulations for e-cigarettes. "We are concerned that e-cigarettes may encourage nonsmokers, particularly children, to start smoking and develop nicotine addiction," said Peter Paul Yu, president of the 35,000-member oncology society. His group and the 33,000-member research society expressed the urgent need for research into the health effects of e-cigarettes, the journal Science reports. "While e-cigarettes may reduce smoking rates and attendant adverse health risks, Yu said, "we will not know for sure until these products are researched and regulated."

In April 2014, the FDA issued proposed regulations for e-cigarettes. Among the provisions, e-cigarette makers would be barred from claiming health benefits for their products unless research backed such claims. Distribution of free samples of e-cigarettes would be banned, as would vending machine sales. The products would carry mandatory health warnings. The statement is intended to highlight the need for the FDA to move quickly to finalize the rules, according to Science.

The statement recommends that state and federal agencies require e-cigarette makers to register their products with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and identify the chemicals and levels of nicotine. The researchers and health professionals want the manufacturers to take steps to stop teenagers from vaping, according to Science. Antismoking activists argue that vaping could become a "gateway habit," drawing nonsmokers to cigarette use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported last month that 17 percent of high school seniors said they vaped at least once a month, compared with 14 percent who admitted to smoking. Vaping among 10 graders, at 16 percent, was more than twice the rate of smoking.

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