Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday it is launching a new public health education campaign to prevent the use of e-cigarettes by children and adolescents.
More than 2 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems in 2016 and approximately 2,500 youth under age 18 in the United States try their first cigarette each day, according to the agency.
The FDA is expanding its The Real Cost public education campaign to discourage the use of e-cigarette and other electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS, by children through messaging to teens about the dangers of using these products.
"While we pursue a policy that focuses on addressing the role that nicotine plays in keeping smokers addicted to combustible cigarettes, and to help move those who cannot quit nicotine altogether onto less harmful products, we will also continue to work vigorously to keep all tobacco products out of the hands of kids," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said in a press release.
"Educating youth about the dangers of tobacco products has been a cornerstone of our efforts to reduce the harms caused by these products. Including e-cigarettes and other ENDS products in our prevention work not only makes sense, it reflects the troubling reality that they are the most commonly-used tobacco product among youth."
This is part of a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation and is the first time the FDA will use public health education to target the use of e-cigarettes or ENDS in youth.
The agency plans to release new digital materials this fall targeting youth and focused on ENDS including online education videos.
The Real Cost campaign, launched in February 2014, is estimated to have prevented nearly 350,000 youths between ages 11 and 18 from starting smoking from 2014 to 2016.
The FDA plans to launch a new more aggressive campaign targeting youth using ENDS in 2018.