Federal health officials say that e-cigarette use among U.S. teenagers has reached "epidemic" levels.
That's according to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who says he's "disturbed" by the latest trends showing a growth in vaping among America's children.
While noting the impact that e-cigarettes have had in reducing overall smoking levels, Gottlieb said what was not foreseen was its popularity among younger Americans.
"We didn’t predict what I now believe is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers," he said.
"I’m deeply disturbed by the trends I’ve seen. I’m disturbed by an epidemic of nicotine use among teenagers," he added. "So, we’re at a crossroads today. It’s one where the opportunities from new innovations will be responsibly seized on right now, or perhaps lost forever."
"The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products," he said.
His department will look into possible efforts to reduce e-cig use, including imposing potential restrictions on flavored tobacco that are most popular among teens, unless the industry does more to tackle the issue.
He will consider curtailing marketing of flavored tobacco as one of the possible remedies, and has given the country's largest e-cigarette manufacturers 60 days to come up with a plan to stop underage children using their products.
A number of cities in Minnesota have been taking steps to tackle nicotine use among local youths, with several Twin Cities suburbs raising the smoking age to 21 in an attempt to drive down smoking and vaping rates.
A recent study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that past month e-cig use among 12th graders was at 16.2 percent, at 14 percent among 10th graders, and 9.5 percent among 8th graders.