Bloomberg Invests $160 Million To Combat Teen Vaping

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is accusing tobacco companies of targeting kids as customers by offering them candy in the form of smoke.

That's why his foundation is investing $160 million in a new initiative to combat the youth e-cigarette epidemic.

Bloomberg appeared on CBS This Morning with the president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Mathew Myers, to talk about how big tobacco is putting kids in serious danger and whether the Food and Drug Administration shares some of the blame.

"You don't let the public do something when the science says it's probably bad for you and you're in the middle of conducting research," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg and Myers say this is an urgent health crisis, and they hope their investment will empower parents and kids, and push lawmakers to act.

"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," Bloomberg said. "They're not people giving up smoking, they're not people that ever smoked before, this is a whole new group that's getting themselves addicted to nicotine."

The American Medical Association is urging people to stop vaping altogether and the FDA is now going after Juul, saying the vape maker illegally claims its devices are safer than tobacco products.

Some of the claims have been made to kids in school settings, according to the FDA.

Juul says it halted school programs this year, and says it is reviewing the letter from the FDA.

Multiple municipalities in New York have already introduced legislation in an effort to ban flavored e-cigarettes, including Yonkers and Nassau County.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the state will soon require shops selling vaping devices to post health warning signs.