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American Heart Association Calls for Tighter Regulations for E-cigarettes

Update Date: Aug 25, 2014 02:51 PM EDT

The American Heart Association (AHA) has released new recommendations on how e-cigarettes should be regulated. The recommended guidelines call for tighter control over the products as well as more research into the safety of the products.

"Over the last 50 years, 20 million Americans died because of tobacco. We are fiercely committed to preventing the tobacco industry from addicting another generation of smokers," said Nancy Brown, CEO of the AHA reported in the press release. "Recent studies raise concerns that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products for the nation's youth, and could renormalize smoking in our society. These disturbing developments have helped convince the association that e-cigarettes need to be strongly regulated, thoroughly researched and closely monitored."

The guidance stated that e-cigarettes that contain nicotine should be considered tobacco products even if the nicotine levels are lower than the average cigarette. By categorizing them as tobacco products, e-cigarettes will have to be subjected to the same laws and regulations enforced for tobacco products.

On top of this recommendation, the association is also calling for stricter new regulations that would reduce youth's access to e-cigarettes. These regulations would also make it harder for companies to market and sell e-cigarettes to young Americans. The association also wants a federal ban on e-cigarettes for minors.

"E-cigarettes have caused a major shift in the tobacco-control landscape," said Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D. FAHA, lead author and chair of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Louisville. "It's critical that we rigorously examine the long-term impact of this new technology on public health, cardiovascular disease and stroke, and pay careful attention to the effect of e-cigarettes on adolescents."

Brown added, "In the years since the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) first announced it would assert its authority over e-cigarettes the market for these products has grown dramatically. We fear that any additional delay of these new regulations will have real, continuing public health consequences. Hence, we urge the agency to release the tobacco deeming rule by the end of this year."

Despite the recommendations that these products should be kept away from minors, the association did acknowledge the possibility that e-cigarettes could help adult smokers quit as a last resort. The association stressed the importance of conducting more research. The recommendations were published in the AHA's journal, Circulation.

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