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Brittany ComakNov 2, 2017, 10:43 amNov 2, 2017, 1:30 pm

Rockville Centre Schools warn over growing popularity of vaping among students

E-cigarette use among high schoolers doubled between 2014-2016, health department says

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ROCKVILLE CENTRE — Call them what you want: e-cigs, e-hookahs, or vapes. They all add up to the same thing: A device that delivers nicotine in a vapor, rather than smoke in a traditional cigarette, according to the New York Department of Health.

"They don't realize that they're getting the nicotine, actually more nicotine than if they'd smoked a regular cigarette. These kids think that it's fine, that it's safe, because it's not a cigarette," says Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth Ruthanne McCormack.

And while they usually come in a variety of flavors and colors, and were once seen as a good alternative to smoking, the department warns that these devices are just as harmful as regular tobacco products.

In Rockville Centre, school district officials there are concerned over the growing use of the devices among younger students, and hope to curb the use as soon as possible before it becomes an actual issue.

McCormack says the Juul vape, which often looks like a flash drive, is the latest craze among students in the district.

"And they're able to buy it online. There is no kind of authority that screens them as far as their age, and it comes in all different flavors, which is also something that is specifically targeted for kids' use. Adults are not going to use a vape that is gummy bear or cotton candy," McCormack says.

According to the Department of Health, e-cigarette use among high schoolers in New York doubled between 2014 and 2016 and is far greater than regular cigarette use.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Noreen Leahy says that as a community, the schools, police department, and drug and alcohol centers are trying to educate parents, teachers, and students as much as possible on this new trend.

"Whenever we hear of something like this, we're just going to attack it, basically, you know, try to really make this a priority. Sadly, we don't get to every child or every family, but we do the best we can," Dr. Noreen Leahy says.

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