FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - It's a serious problem. Fargo Cass Public Health says devices are turning up in schools that parents and teachers don't know are being used as e-cigarettes. They're becoming increasingly hard to identify.
"It looks like a USB, you would never guess that it's an e-cigarette but that's exactly what it is," says Tobacco Prevention Community Health Educator, Melissa Markegard.
E-cigs, vapes, e-juice. Whatever you want to call it, teens are using them. It's becoming a problem. In fact, Fargo Cass Public Health is working with area school districts to keep up with these devices.
"Definitions have been updated in many school’s policies to include e-cigarettes," says Markegard.
Catching someone in the act at school can be hard and identifying an e-cigarette can be even harder. So where and how are teens getting these?
"The ones that are really able to be hidden, I ordered one online that we use to show parents," says Markegard.
Some sites make you enter a birthdate before allowing you access. But let's be honest, that's easy for someone to lie about. There are other ways for teens to get these devices in their hands.
"A lot of that has to do with kids who are using their Mom or Dad's credit card. A lot of that is parents not watching what's going on or they're using their own credit card with someone else's ID," says Dutchman Vapors Manager, Brian Power.
Brian Power is the manager at Dutchman Vapors in Fargo. He says he is doing what he can to make sure customers coming in aren't buying the vapes for minors.
"Me personally, if one person out of four people in a car gets out and comes in here to shop, I do ask for all of their ID's," says Power.
Right now, they only sell products in their stores. But for parents whose teens may be buying these products online, they need to be on alert. Markegard says if you find something that looks like an e-cigarette or something that just doesn't seem right, Google it. If your child is under the age of 18, take it away.
Fargo Cass Public Health says it's hard to know the long-term health problems that can arise from using an e-cigarette, when studies are still being done. But since they do contain nicotine, they say these devices can be detrimental to your health.
A study we found says teenagers who vape are 7 times more likely to use regular cigarettes.