updated 3/23/2009 5:33:58 PM ET 2009-03-23T21:33:58

A senator is asking the government to prevent the sale of so-called "electronic cigarettes" until more is known about them.

E-cigarettes are marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking and as a way to kick the habit. They are smokeless and battery-powered, releasing a nicotine vapor into the lungs.

New Jersey Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg sent the Food and Drug Administration a letter Monday saying that the agency should ensure e-cigarettes are not sold until they've been studied more.

An FDA spokeswoman says the agency will respond directly to the senator regarding his concerns.

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