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FDA proposes to regulate electronic cigarettes under less The federal agency said in a letter to stakeholders Monday that it intends to propose rule changes to treat e-cigarettes the same traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products. The news is considered a victory for makers and distributors of the devices, which continue to gain popularity worldwide. E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge, creating vapor that the "smoker" inhales. until late 2006. Now, the industry has grown from the thousands of users in 2006 to several million worldwide, with tens of thousands new e-smokers every week. No timeline has been set on the proposed rule changes. The FDA said e-cigarettes could still be regulated as drugs or drug-delivery devices if they are "marketed for therapeutic purposes," - for example, as a stop-smoking aid. Jason Healy, president of e-cigarette maker Blu Cigs, called the news a good first step, but said the pending rule changes will be more beneficial for "weeding out the shady companies." Right now, "you can potentially sell snake oil," Healy said. Nearly 46 million Americans smoke cigarettes. About 40% try to quit each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But unlike nicotine patches or gums, e-smokes have operated in a legal gray area. The FDA lost a court case last year after trying to treat e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, rather than tobacco products, because e-cigarettes heat nicotine extracted from tobacco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.