CHARLOTTE, N.C. — They look like common items: a tube of lipstick, a sweatshirt, an asthma inhaler. They’re really disguised vapes. 

These 'discreet' vape products connect to electronic cigarettes allowing users to vape without being found out.

After a WCNC Defenders investigation uncovered the large market of these products, school districts in the Carolinas say they’re now issuing warnings to parents. 

These products proudly promote so-called “stealth vaping." They're legal for an adult to use, but kids are catching on.

Just one year ago, NBC Charlotte was warning parents of a vaping device that looked like a simple USB drive. Today, teens are falling seriously ill in droves, with sickness attributed to electronic cigarettes.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has called youth vaping an epidemic.

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Parents, schools, and government leaders are cracking down, easily able to identify those once-sneaky devices -- but smokers are staying a step ahead. 

Stealth vaping

Products designed for “stealth vaping” are hitting the market. Vapes can be disguised in clothes, makeup, an asthma inhaler, an iPhone case, a pen, even a smartwatch.

One school district in Texas recently, posting a warning to parents on Facebook.

Most of these products sold online did ask for age verification, and they are legal for adults to use. 

For kids who are hooked and struggling to hide their potentially dangerous habit from parents and teachers, products like these could make getting away with it a whole lot easier.

NBC Charlotte reached out to several of the companies that manufacture the vape products mentioned above. As of the time of this posting, none of the companies had returned our request for comment.