The rapid spread of e-cigarettes, which work by heating a liquid until it vaporizes, was flagged in a 2016 report by the USA surgeon general, which cited a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015.
However, despite the good news, the report's authors also warned that misinformation is still rife, including what they called a "worrying" belief that vaping is as bad as smoking.
While applauding the FDA's move, Linda Richter, director of policy research and analysis for the nonprofit Center on Addiction, said that if the agency had taken action when the trend was first identified, "we probably could have avoided the surge in the use of child-friendly, high-dose nicotine products that we're now seeing among kids as young as 12 years old". The battery-powered, hand-held devices heat nicotine-infused liquid into an inhalable mist, which users puff as if smoking a cigarette.
"We need to get the word out about the dangers of e-cigarette use among adolescents".
"No youth should ever use e-cigs", Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said in a video during Tuesday's announcement.
In addition, the FDA wants to be sure kids are aware that e-cigarettes can contain unsafe chemicals such as acrolein, a chemical that can cause irreversible lung damage; formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical, and toxic metal particles like chromium, lead and nickel, which can be inhaled into the lungs.
"I've been very concerned that we're actually using this generation of teenagers as guinea pigs to see what the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are on their brains and their behavior", said Leslie.
"The new campaign we're announcing today seeks to snap teens out of their "cost-free" mentality regarding e-cigarette use with powerful and creative messages that reach kids where they spend a lot of their time: online and in school", Gottlieb explained.
"Flavored vape juice may not be as sweet as it sounds", one video says as the strawberries on the screen rot into dry fungus.
"Strangely enough, some students come in here to put crap into their bodies", one bathroom poster reads.
Meanwhile, the FDA is also ferreting out retailers who sell vaping products to minors, sending more than 1,100 warning letters to stores caught selling e-cigarettes to minors and levying fines on 131 repeat offenders.
One of the most popular products is the Juul, e-cigarette. But FDA officials say the liquids still meet the statutory definition for a tobacco product.
Some of the health concern is the lack of studies on the risks of vaping.
Vaping is generally considered less unsafe than smoking, because burning tobacco or marijuana generates chemicals that are harmful to lungs. The small print beneath explains, "Vapers can inhale toxic metals into their lungs - like these from the periodic table: chromium, nickel, and lead".
"Although we've seen considerable declines in the use of regular cigarettes among USA youth over the past several decades, the tobacco product landscape is evolving, and the use of other tobacco products has become increasingly popular", she said. "I think they're all grouped together".
"Voluntary action by companies has never been a solution", he added, "and the FDA must prohibit their social media marketing and crack down on the use of flavors". The companies sell Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL and Logic e-cigarette brands, which account for 97 percent of US e-cigarette sales, according to FDA.
The FDA is giving the five largest e-cigarette makers - Juul, Vuse, Blu, MarkTen XL and Logic - 60 days to submit plans to curb sales of their products to underage consumers.
The FDA said it remains committed to exploring e-cigarettes as a less-harmful alternative for adult smokers, but Gottlieb added "that work can't come at the expense of kids".
"I use the word epidemic with great care", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb publicly stated this month.