Youth vaping study results are encouraging but effective education and regulation still urgently needed
Source: Hapai Te Hauora
A major study of youth smoking between 2014 and 2019 by ASH New Zealand and the University of Auckland shows that while
some young people are experimenting with vaping, daily use of an e-cigarette is occurring overwhelmingly in existing
Hāpai Te Hauora hopes the news will give some relief to stop-smoking practitioners who are using vaping successfully as
a quit tool with heavy, long-term smokers but often feel under fire from media reports speculating on youth vaping
The study suggests that non-Māori and non-Pacific are at comparatively low risk of taking up smoking and vaping, while
Māori and those in less affluent communities are far more likely to smoke and/or vape.
Selah Hart, CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora and Acting General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service hopes the
study will also allay fears raised by NZ school principals from higher decile schools about a ‘vaping epidemic’ among
their students. "In reality," says Hart "it’s those in less affluent communities who are at far greater risk."
Hāpai Te Hauora believes the study confirms the need for more targeted measures to support youth at risk of smoking and
vaping and that different types of youth interventions are needed, to ensure not only youth smokers, but also youth who
are switching away from smoking are well-supported, well-informed and in a strong position to quit entirely.
Dr Natalie Walker, lead author of the study has told Hāpai "We need to identify the groups that we most need to educate
and support, and this study tells us who we most need to work alongside."
Hāpai is calling on the government to provide education and cessation services for youth who are most at risk from
tobacco-related addiction and to continue to support research into how vaping is affecting youth smoking behaviours.
Selah Hart proposes earlier education about lifestyle choices that can prevent tobacco-related addiction in adolescence
and adulthood, supported by proper funding for mass-media campaigns.
"It’s time the Government allocated more money from tobacco tax revenue -- currently estimated to be around $2bn -- to
assisting communities suffering from generations of tobacco addiction and harm" says Hart. "Rangatahi should be arriving
at high school with good health literacy and the ability to ask questions about tobacco addiction and why there are
still people smoking. And if they are seeing vaping they should be able to recognise it as an adult-only, harm reduction
Hāpai also wants urgent Government action to protect youth from vaping products, such as removing point-of-sale
marketing displays. Says Hart, "Let’s reduce access, increase knowledge, make sure that we reduce any known harms
associated with vaping and make sure the benefits to addicted smokers who are quitting remain."