Five million children are using e-cigarette products, Azar said, calling it an "alarming" trend.
Donald Trump said wednesday that his administration will take steps to ban flavored "vaping" products after hundreds of Americans became victims of a mysterious illness linked to e-cigarettes.
"Not only is it a problem overall, but really specifically with respect for children", Trump told reporters at the White House after a meeting with advisers including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Norman Sharpless.
By May 20, he said, e-cigarette companies making tobacco-flavored products would have the chance to file for approval by the FDA.
Only a day earlier, First Lady Melania Trump tweeted out her concern about children vaping, raising eyebrows as to whether the administration might be pursuing something. "We can't allow people to get sick", he said.
Idaho health officials are asking health care providers to be alert for signs of respiratory illness in patients who use vaping products, and to report any cases to public health officials. The restrictions, which have not been finalized, would affect sweet and fruity flavors, but not mint and menthol, which are also said to attract teens.
E-cigarette vapor contains tiny particles that carry flavorings. The agency notes that scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking, and that additional research is needed to understand long-term health effects. Government health officials have called the trend an "epidemic", and new statistics due out this fall are expected to show the problem worsening. "We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth".
"As news emerges from the USA and more research is conducted, we believe it is time to be extremely vigilant in Canada and not repeat past mistakes".
Azar said it will be several weeks before his department releases its proposal to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes.