NEW YORK (CBS) Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is joining the fight to combat teen nicotine use.
The fight against underage vaping just got a $160 million boost following a study that finds flavor is the reason most young adults said they started using e-cigarettes.
"All the progress we've made in reducing teen smoking, in particular, is being turned around because the kids like the flavor in the vaping products," said Bloomberg, speaking on "CBS This Morning."
Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies founderMichael Bloomberg joined Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids to announce an initiative aimed at banning flavored e-cigarettes, end marketing that appeals to kids and preventing online e-cigarette sales to kids.
"If you eliminate mint and mango you can pretty well be sure you're gonna see a decline in youth use of these products and if we can do that, it's a very first important step," Meyers said.
According to the CDC, 1.5 million more young Americans used e-cigarettes last year than in the year before, bringing the total to nearly 5 million, including one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students.
"Over a quarter of them are addicted. Most of them would have never used any tobacco product," Meyers said. "We know that heavy doses of nicotine for those young people increases the risk for disease, increases the risk for smoking in the future and has a long-term harmful effect on their developing brain."
The initiative comes a day after the FDA accused Juul, the nation's largest seller of e-cigarettes, of illegally marketing its product as safer than traditional cigarettes. The agency sent a letter to Juul citing specific incidents, including a school presentation, where a Juul representative claimed it was "totally safe." The company says it's "reviewing the letters and will fully cooperate."
Money from the intitiative will go towards countering lobbying from e-cigarette makers and education campaigns for parents and teachers.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeated a warning about e-cigarettes as cases of serious lung illnesses linked to vaping continue to climb. On Friday, health departments in Indiana, Minnesota and Los Angeles County announced the death of patients with a vaping-linked lung injuries.. pushing the nationwide total to five.