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As Millions Vape, E-Cigarette Researchers Count Puffs, Scour Facebook

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.

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--- Reuters