Alaska health officials say many students in the state are using e-cigarettes as the number of injuries and deaths continues to climb from a suspected vaping illness outbreak around the country.

"I think parents should be asking their teens if they are vaping or if their friends are, being aware that there's all different types of e-cigarettes that they could be using. Some of them they look like a USB port and they're easy to hide," said Cheley Grigsby, Alaska's Tobacco Prevention and Control program manager.

According to Grigsby, around 16% of middle and high school students use e-cigarettes regularly in Alaska. The latest data suggests that in 2017, 34% of high school students reported trying smoking, even if it was just a puff.

Grigsby says surveys also indicate that many young people don't see vaping as a tobacco product so they think it's safe.

"Something to keep in mind is that there's over 450 brands of e-cigarettes," she said. "There's four generations. They've changed over time. It's going to be hard for parents to keep track of what the products look like."

The American Lung Association has more information about vaping, including how to recognize signs that kids are doing it and how to talk to them about it. 

So far there are no reports of illness in Alaska.

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