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Study Suggests Teens Who Vape Have No Idea How Much Nicotine They Are Getting And Related Dangers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- E-cigarette use among middle and high school students is an increasing concern for schools.

Now, new research suggests many kids don't know what they're vaping, or how addictive it can be.

But as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez found out Wednesday, one Long Island school is doing something about it.

The good news is that teens are smoking cigarettes at record-low rates. The bad news is that many are turning to e-cigarettes or vaping instead, often because they think it's a healthier alternative to smoking.

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Vaping, e-cigarettes
Suffolk County lawmakers are partnering with four school districts on a program design to deter teenage e-cigarette use. (Photo: CBS2)

But that's not necessarily so.

Kaitlin Meyers and Daven Terner have seen first-hand how popular vaping is in high school.

"I know a lot of people that vape and it's like constant, constant. Especially in the beginning of the school year, everyone had it out in the hallway," said Terner, a ninth grader.

Use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed, especially among adolescents and teens, many of whom think it's harmless.

"I definitely do because if they knew, then nobody would be doing this as much," Terner said.

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A new study suggests many kids aren't aware how much nicotine they're getting when they vape.

Researchers at Stony Brook Children's Hospital surveyed people under 21 about their tobacco, e-cigarette and marijuana habits. They found 40 percent of those who vaped in the past week said they didn't realize their products contained nicotine. But tests showed they had significant levels of the chemical in their system.

"These kids are using these very high-content products and they are potentially going to get addicted and they don't know what is going on," Stony Brook Children's Hospital's Dr. Rachel Boykan said.

FLASHBACK: Suffolk County Set To Launch "Vape Out" Program To Discourage E-Cigarette Use By Teenagers

North Babylon High School is among the schools trying to teach kids about e-cigarettes through a new program called "Vape Out."

"That's our ultimate goal, to create awareness and education for students who haven't started these things yet," Assistant Principal Jeff Raymond said.

Students like Terner and Meyers said they will also talk to younger students about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

"They've heard enough from the adults and stuff. I feel like it would be more effective to hear it from us," Terner said.

"We want to go there just to give them the information of the dangerous chemicals that are in it and the risk of addiction," Meyers added.

They hope kids get the message so they never get hooked.

Even without addictive nicotine, there's growing evidence that vaping is bad for oral health. The chemicals in the vapor can cause inflammation and dry mouth, leading to gum disease, tooth loss, tooth decay and bad breath.

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