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    Benefits of E-Cigarettes May Outweigh Harms: Study

    Findings run counter to recent calls for strict regulation

    continued...

    Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior medical consultant for the American Lung Association, disagrees. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should have authority over all tobacco products and e-cigarettes, said Edelman, a professor of medicine and physiology and biophysics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

    "It is imperative that the FDA finalize proposed e-cigarette regulations by the end of 2014," he said. "The FDA needs to crack down on quit-smoking and other health claims that e-cigarette companies are making," Edelman said.

    Edelman said it's too soon to know if e-cigarettes will cause long-term damage. "So far there hasn't been very much chronic use of e-cigarettes. So it's not possible to say there will be no harm," he said.

    "Since we are talking about a recreational drug -- it's not essential to life, it doesn't cure any illness -- it would only make sense to regulate it rigorously until we find out whether it's good or bad," Edelman said.

    Earlier this month, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, which includes more than 70,000 members worldwide, urged governments to ban or limit e-cigarettes until more is known about their health effects.

    And this month, the American Medical Association requested tighter restrictions on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes.

    The AMA's recommendations include a minimum age of purchase; childproof packaging; restrictions on flavors that appeal to young people, and a ban on unsupported claims that the devices help people quit smoking.

    Preventing the marketing of e-cigarettes to minors is another priority, the medical association says.

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