Schools are crying out for help with kids as young as seven vaping

There are concerns that children as young as seven are vaping in New Zealand. And figures suggest that up to 25% of 15-year-olds vape regularly.

The government has revealed it is planning a health campaign targeting young people later this year, and many are hoping it will take a tough stance, like Australia.

Erin Beamish, a 13th year student at St Catherine’s College, says there’s a lot of pressure to vape, especially on social media.

“It’s seen as, ‘oh, if I don’t vape, I’m not cool’, you know, it’s kind of a trendy thing.”

And it’s becoming more and more common.

“Twenty to 25% of 15-year-olds vape regularly,” said John O’Connell, CEO of the Life Education Trust.

And he said some start even younger.

“We hear reports from directors, as young as seven and eight.”

In association with the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, Life Education Trust has launched a behind-the-scenes production to teach young people about the dangers of vaping through drama.

O’Connell says smoking has been virtually eradicated among young people, but vaping has become a new problem and schools are crying out for help.

“I think the biggest problem is nicotine addiction. So in Australia to buy a nicotine vape you need a doctor’s prescription, here you buy them from a local dairy. And of course the nicotine, you talk about mental health issues around addiction, you talk about mood swings and anxiety.”

He said New Zealand can learn from Australia. New South Wales Health launched a campaign this year to challenge teenage vaping, warning of harmful chemicals, addiction, impact on young brains.

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said plans were underway.

“We will be launching a campaign later this year to make sure young people are aware of the harms of vaping,” she said.

“Because we see vaping as a tool to help people quit smoking, we don’t want young people to start vaping right away.”

It’s an offense to sell vapes to those under 18, and dairies are limited to selling three unappealing flavors. But retailers have found an easy workaround. By dedicating a space to vapes, they can be categorized as a specialty vape store, allowing them to sell all the flavors they like.

There are now 661 specialty vape stores nationwide, double the number of McDonald’s and KFC combined.

Schools want tougher restrictions and better awareness to stop teens from vaping now.

“It takes a huge body of evidence before legislation is put in place to bring about change. We are concerned that by the time this huge body of evidence is collected, it will be too late,” said Halina McDonald, director pastoral assistant. at Sainte-Catherine College

Too late if teens are already addicted.

Comments are closed.