RICHMOND (USA): Increased awareness and use of electronic cigarettes in the US outlined in a study released on Thursday highlights the need for government regulation and evaluation, the head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's office on smoking and health said.

Nearly six in 10 adults in the US are aware of the battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapour that users inhale, according the first study to assess the change in awareness and use of electronic cigarettes on a national level. The CDC report published in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research also said about one in five current smokers reported having used an electronic cigarette.

“These finding sort of tantalisingly underscore the need for more rigorous study of patterns of use of e-cigarettes and impacts,” Dr Tim McAfee said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Until there's regulatory authority and oversight, it's going to be more difficult to be certainly reassuring around things like toxic effects.”

Some of the largest US tobacco companies have gotten into the e-cig market as part of the industrywide push to diversify beyond the traditional cigarette business.

The Food and Drug Administration says e-cigarettes have not been fully studied. The federal agency is expected to assert regulatory authority over e-cigarettes later this year to treat them the same as traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.—AP

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