"Companies selling these products have a responsibility to ensure they aren't putting children in harm's way or enticing youth use", says Gottlieb.
"While we continue to encourage the development of potentially less harmful forms of nicotine delivery for now addicted adult smokers, we will not allow that work to come at the expense of our children", Gottlieb stressed. In March, it explored "impactful regulatory options the FDA could pursue to address this issue" of tobacco, e-cigarettes, cigars and snus. "(We will) continue to take action against those who sell tobacco products to youth and market products in this egregious fashion".
The FDA cited examples including "One Mad Hit Juice Box", which resembles children's apple juice boxes, "V'Nilla Cookies & Milk", which looks like Nilla Wafer and Golden Oreo cookies and "Twirly Pop", which not only resembles a Unicorn Pop lollipop, but comes with one.
But teenagers aren't the only ones at risk with e-cigarette products.
Some of the products even smelled like the food they were imitating, said Maureen K. Ohlhausen, acting chairwoman of the FTC.
The FDA said the products violate codes against false or misleading branding and unfair and deceptive marketing.
FDA sends warning to liquid e-cigarette companies about making product packing that looks similar to other kid-friendly brands.More news: USA soldier killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan
The agency and the FTC have asked for responses from each of the companies within 15 working days. If the companies fail to comply, they may face serious consequences, such as product seizure or an injunction.
Nevertheless, "it takes a very small amount of these e-liquids, in some cases less than half a teaspoon, to be at the low end of what could be a fatal effect for a kid, and even less than that to make them very, very sick", said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. Small children who are exposed to e-cigarette liquid or ingest it can die from cardiac arrest, as well as experience seizures, comas and respiratory arrest.
The agency plans "a series of escalating actions" as part of a new plan to prevent youth tobacco use, Gottlieb said.
Even though it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to people younger than 18, national survey data suggest that more than 2 million middle school and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine devices in 2016.
The FDA didn't say how numerous kids who swallowed vaping liquid did it because they were tricked into thinking it would actually taste like their favorite candy, drinks, or snacks.
A list of the commercially sold look-alike packaging was posted online by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission. The agency also sent a letter to JUUL Labs requiring the company to submit important documents to better understand the reportedly high rates of youth use and the particular youth appeal of these products.