Don’t count on the tobacco companies to reverse the sharp rise in e-cigarette use among teens. That’s the message the American Heart Association (AHA) is sending to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who promised last week that the federal government would act to curtail youthful e-cigarette use.

Despite the Trump administration’s generally anti-regulatory stance, Gottlieb said "everything is on the table" when it comes to addressing this public health problem.

The Washington Post recently reported a dramatic 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in just one year.

Threats, fines

The FDA is threatening to remove e-cigarettes from store shelves – especially flavored ones designed to appeal to teens – unless manufacturers do more to combat youth use. The agency is also stepping up warnings and fines against retailers who sell vaping products to minors.

That’s good, but it’s not good enough, says AHA CEO Nancy Brown.

“We share the FDA’s deep concern about the epidemic of e-cigarette use among youth, but we are concerned that the steps announced today aren’t enough to reduce the number of teens smoking e-cigs. Faced with the skyrocketing popularity of e-cigs among kids and the rapidly growing number of teens addicted to nicotine, the FDA must take bold action now.”

Ending the epidemic

However, Brown pointed out that; “an industry that has invested millions of dollars to target kids with its dangerous products cannot be trusted to solve this growing health crisis.

“The FDA has the authority – and an obligation – to end the epidemic of youth tobacco use. Urgent steps the FDA must take include banning all flavored tobacco products; removing new products from the market that were illegally introduced absent FDA review; requiring e-cigs, cigars and other newly deemed products to submit premarket tobacco applications; and requiring child-resistant packaging.”