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E-cigarette sales soar as regulators fume

WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- Electronic cigarettes are proliferating in the United States even though they are unapproved and largely unstudied by health researchers, officials say.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has halted dozens of shipments of the tobacco-free "e-cigarettes" from entering the country, but sales of the devices are nonetheless mushrooming at retail outlets and over the Internet, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

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The newspaper said the devices, which cost between $100 and $150, include a cigarette powered by a battery and replaceable cartridges that usually contain nicotine, flavoring and a propylene glycol liquid that, when heated as a smoker inhales, produces a vapory cloud that mimics cigarette smoke.

"It looks like a cigarette and is marketed as a cigarette," Jonathan Winickoff, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium, told the Times. "There's nothing that prevents youth from getting addicted to nicotine."

Electronic cigarette distributor Smoking Everywhere of Florida has sued the FDA for stopping its imports at the border, saying the agency doesn't have the jurisdiction to do so because e-cigarettes are not marketed as smoking cessation products, the Times said.

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