One team of researchers assessing the risks of electronic cigarettes is counting the puffs taken by volunteer "vapers." Another will comb Facebook for posts on how people are tinkering with e-cigarettes to make the devices deliver extra nicotine. A third is building a virtual convenience store for 13-to-17-year-olds, measuring how e-cigarette displays and price promotions influence whether minors buy the increasingly popular devices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is spending $270 million on these and 45 other research projects to determine the risks of e-cigarettes before millions more Americans become hooked on the devices. "They want data and they want it yesterday," said Dr Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin of Yale University, who is leading four projects. "Yesterday," however, is years away. Final results may not be available before 2018, researchers leading the FDA-funded projects told Reuters. That timetable, which has not been reported before, underscores how the slow pace of science is contributing to a regulatory vacuum, allowing e-cigarette makers to sell their products virtually unchallenged.
First published July 7 2014, 7:30 AM