Fifty years after the U.S. Surgeon General's first report about the dangers of smoking, public health officials are wrestling with how to regulate electronic cigarettes, as no government studies address the dangers of these products.
Senate Democrats and public health groups warn e-cigarettes will attract new smokers, including children, who have never used traditional cigarettes before. But others say e-cigarettes can help ween existing smokers off of traditional cigarettes, which are believed to be more harmful.
To this end, the FDA is currently funding 37 studies, but none of them have been completed yet.
Smoking-related diseases are coming to the forefront this week as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launches a social media memorial to remember the 20 million smokers who have lost their lives since the Surgeon General's report in 1964.
The CDC's #20 Million Memorial will include photos and stories shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by the family and friends of 17.5 million people who died from smoking.
According to the organization, 2.5 million were non-smokers who died from exposure to secondhand smoke.
"The memorial will serve as a reminder that millions of people have died from the health consequences of smoking, which include cancers, cardiovascular and lung diseases, miscarriage, and sudden infant death syndrome," the CDC wrote.
The memorial is part of an effort by the CDC to help more than 42 million Americans quit smoking.
This comes as the Obama administration begins to crack down on e-cigarettes. In April, the Food and Drug Administration proposed restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to people who are 18 and older, and the agency is currently reviewing comments on the rule.