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FDA cracks down on e-cigarettes as products skyrocket in popularity

Posted at 1:59 PM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 16:59:58-05

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the underage vaping epidemic as e-cigarettes continue to skyrocket in popularity.

In 2014, the agency says e-cigarette use surpassed regular cigarettes as the most commonly-used tobacco product among middle and high school students in the U.S.

Just three years later in 2017, the FDA says more than two million teens reported using e-cigarettes. According to the FDA, 2017 is the year parents and teachers started to take note of the growing danger.

Teens are exceptionally vulnerable to nicotine addiction because their brains are still developing, the FDA says. Going a step further, the agency claims nicotine can “rewrite” the brain, causing it to crave more of the chemical.

RELATED: This is where you can get help if your child is vaping

Certain products, such as JUUL, claim to contain as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes in a single “pod.”

“Even e-cigarettes labeled as 'nicotine-free' can still expose users to toxic chemicals known to cause serious health effects,” the FDA says.

To combat addiction to such products, the FDA has launched an awareness campaign targeting young people.

According to the agency, awareness of the potential risks of e-cigarette use remains low. Roughly 80 percent of young people say they don’t see great risk in regularly using the products.

A campaign called "The Real Cost" aims to fix the lack of awareness.

See the FDA ad:

RELATED: Why vaping is so dangerous for teens

The campaign reaches more than 10 million people ages 12-17 who have used or are open to trying e-cigarettes.

According to the FDA, the campaign is designed to reach teens where they spend most of their time: in school and online.

The agency runs ads on social media and platforms such as Hulu, Facebook, Spotify and YouTube as well as placing material in high schools.

On top of efforts to educate youth about the dangers of e-cigarettes, the agency has launched sales restrictions on flavored e-cigarettes and plans to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, according to The Washington Post.

The FDA says it will limit the sales to brick-and-mortar stores that either have areas not accessible to those under 18 or age-restricted entry.