Although they are not technically tobacco products, as a relatively new product in the tobacco space, electronic cigarettes have attracted a lot of attention.
As Altria (NYSE: MO ) , Reynolds American (NYSE: RAI ) , and Lorillard (NYSE: LO ) each now offer their own take on the e-cig, researchers are trying to figure out how users interact with these products to determine the risks involved with these new, untested products.
The FDA is leading the charge, and has spent $270 million on several research projects to assess the risks of e-cigs before they take over the nation.
The FDA has designed its studies, all 48 of them, to address questions central to future regulations. The agency is setting these studies up to research factors such as how e-cig displays and price promotions influence minors' perception of the devices.
Other studies will count the puffs taken by volunteer "vapers" and how people are tinkering with e-cigs to make the devices deliver extra nicotine .
However, the FDA does not expect to complete some of the studies until 2018, which means that until then, e-cig makers can sell their devices without challenges.
Still, the studies could yield some interesting results over the longer term. Indeed, researchers at the University of Louisville are conducting a study in Kentucky that aims to analyze the effects of e-cig organic compounds, flavorings, and particulate matter on lung cells in mice. The researchers expect results from this study in 2015. A study that confirms the risks of e-cigs to humans is still as far as five years away.
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