E-cigarettes are dramatically growing in popularity and the makers have been using sweet flavors and other tactics that can appeal to children.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) stated that the lack of regulation of e-cigarettes is unacceptable and oncologists need to speak out on this issue.

The effects of tobacco are something oncologists must deal with daily and, without regulatory oversight, it is uncertain how e-cigarettes may be contributing to certain illnesses.

ASCO, along with 30 organizations, sent a letter to President Barack Obama on May 1, 2015, asking for his leadership in giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate e-cigarettes and currently unregulated tobacco products.1 ASCO wrote that the Obama administration needs to act now for public health reasons.

“ASCO has a long-standing history of working to eradicate tobacco use and advancing policies for tobacco control. The society is using a multi-pronged agenda to address tobacco cessation and control, including efforts to thwart uptake of tobacco products among youth. These cancer policies rise to a level of importance for all aspects of the administration, including the President,” said Richard Schilsky, MD, who is chief medical officer of ASCO.

He said the potential ability of e-cigarettes to assist smokers in quitting is unknown at this time. Dr. Schilsky, who is also the chief of hematology/oncology at the University of Chicago, in Chicago, IL, said oncologists have a responsibility to educate their patients, their families, and the public at large about the negative consequences of tobacco.

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“Every day, these physicians see the harmful effects caused by the use of tobacco products. And, the fact is, that we simply don’t know the health effects and consequences of e-cigarettes and should, therefore, err on the side of caution with more regulatory oversight until the health consequences of using these products become clear,” Dr. Schilsky told Cancer Therapy Advisor.

He said earlier this year, in a joint letter with the American Association of Cancer Research to the FDA, ASCO expressed concern about the proliferation of flavored e-cigarettes.