By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The American Academy of Pediatrics calls for new federal regulations to discourage children and teenagers from using e-cigarettes. More than 20 percent of high school students and 5 percent of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes last year — that’s almost an 80 percent increase from the previous year.

Now, school programs are aiming to reverse the trend.

Sixth-graders are learning about the dangers of vaping.

“It’s very harmful,” said Isabella McGowan, a sixth-grade student.

They’re taking part in the Catch My Breath E-Cigarette and Juul Prevention Program. It’s aimed at combating the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes among American children and teenagers.

“Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to use conventional cigarettes,” said Dr. Susan Walley, a professor of pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new policy statement calling for new federal regulations, including setting a minimum age of 21 to buy the products, banning online sales and youth-targeted marketing, and stopping production of certain flavored e-cigarette products.

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“E-cigarettes are not safe because they contain toxic chemicals, many which are found in cigarettes as well as nicotine, which we know is an addictive substance,” said Dr. Walley.

The program is being taught in 20 states, reaching more than 30,000 students.

“What I liked about the program is a lot of group activities, they came up with ways to be self-reliant and get away from peer pressure,” said principal Timothy Sullivan.

Students seem to be getting the message.

“If you know what’s inside of them and it could be harmful, then it’s easy to say no,” said student Rocky Simoni.

“Now that I learned it’s really bad, I definitely will not do it,” said student Victoria Franciamore.

JUUL Labs released a statement, saying its products are intended for current adult smokers only and the company strongly supports raising the minimum purchase age to 21.

Stephanie Stahl