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E-Cigarettes Should be a Last Resort, Heart Doctors Say

E-cigarettes should be outlawed for minors and only be used as a last resort to quit smoking, the American Heart Association says in a new policy statement. And the Food and Drug Administration should hurry up and regulate them, the group says.

New research shows that teens are not using e-cigarettes to quit. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Monday shows more than 263,000 middle-and high-schoolers who had never smoked before tried e-cigarettes in 2013. That's triple the number from 2011 and reinforces the argument that vaping can be a gateway to nicotine addiction. “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,” Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, says in a statement.

The Food and Drug Administration says it plans to regulate e-cigarettes, along with cigars and other tobacco products. Many “vapers” who use e-cigarettes say regulation will damage a product that’s a far safer substitute for cigarettes. The Heart Association disagrees. “In the years since the FDA first announced it would assert its authority over e-cigarettes, the market for these products has grown dramatically,” Brown said. “We fear that any additional delay of these new regulations will have real, continuing public health consequences.”

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— Maggie Fox