Health Experts Anxious to See FDA Rules on E-Cigarettes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue its first regulations governing electronic cigarettes by the end of the month, and health experts are anxious about what the rules may look like.

While they’re hoping for sweeping limits on a quickly growing industry, they’re also realistic about what to expect. And it’s all mired in uncertainty about whether e-cigarettes might help people kick the habit — or keep smokers hooked and attract a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Congress gave FDA the power to regulate tobacco products in 2009, but the legislation does not give the agency the authority to ban tobacco products outright. It can require them to list ingredients and regulate warning notices on the packets.

But few expect the agency to assert a firm hand just yet, despite concerns about the chemicals the devices contain and the way they seem to target teens.

This disappoints Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “The failure of FDA to act before this has allowed the e-cigarette market to explode in uncontrolled ways,” Myers told NBC News. “People are not using e-cigarettes to quit smoking but are using them to maintain their smoking habits.”

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