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Vape-Free Kids NZ (VFKNZ) Applauds Expansion Of Quitline Programme To Include Children

VFKNZ, a leading community advocacy group in the fight against youth nicotine addiction, commends Quitline for its recent decision to extend eligibility for its support programme to under 18-year-olds.

This update means that tamariki and rangatahi struggling with nicotine addiction can now access personalised support services, rather than simply being directed to information websites. Quitline’s programme includes phone calls, text, and email support.

While this development marks a positive step towards addressing nicotine dependence in children and young people, VFK NZ emphasises the urgent need for preventative measures.

VFKNZ spokesperson Anna Stewart said, “We applaud that there is recognition of the severity of nicotine addiction amongst children and young people in Aotearoa by public services. However, without proactive prevention strategies, we risk exacerbating the problem. Support services are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff - we absolutely need them, but we also need the government to be urgently addressing the causes of this health crisis. Now with more than 8,000 vape retailers in the country, access and availability of vaping products in our communities normalises vaping for our children, and makes enforcement of regulations around selling to minors extremely challenging.”

VFKNZ recently met with public health nurses who expressed frustration at the lack of resources available for addressing vaping in schools. While inclusion of children to Quitline Services acknowledges youth vaping is a growing issue, educators and frontline health professionals need to be better equipped to offer wrap-around support for affected children and their families. More critical still is the need to prevent this additional burden on our health and education system happening in the first place.

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The group calls for a proactive approach to tackling youth nicotine addiction, emphasising the urgency of reducing young people's access to harmful nicotine products. As the number of children and young people affected by nicotine addiction continues to rise, VFKNZ urges policymakers and public health authorities to prioritise comprehensive, preventative measures to stem the tide of this growing crisis.

“There has to be effective enforcement for retailers who continue to sell to minors. The National government made a pre-election promise to reduce retailers to 600, and we call on them to honour this so that our children are better protected from the harms of vaping.”

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