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Huge Increase In ‘Don’t Get Sucked In’ Web Visits As Schools Grapple With Vaping Epidemic

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand (ARFNZ) has seen a massive increase in visits to its vaping education website Don’t Get Sucked In, as schools, parents and students seek more information about vaping and e-cigarettes.

Almost 5,000 new users have visited the site between February and June this year alone, and it attracted 3,500 visits and almost 10,000 page views from mid-May to mid-June. ARFNZ has also been receiving an increasing number of enquiries and requests from schools and teachers.

"What we’re hearing from these schools is that they’re hugely concerned about the ongoing and worsening teen vaping problem," says Letitia Harding, Chief Executive of ARFNZ. "They feel that the Government could do more to restrict young people's access to vape products and the marketing that continues to promote these products, so they are seeking input and education from other sources.

"Coupled with stories in the media about schools having to lock their toilet blocks to stop students from vaping there, and minors being easily able to buy vapes from dairies, these concerns indicate that teen vaping remains a big problem in New Zealand," adds Letitia.

Education around vaping is vital, and the 'Don't Get Sucked In' website provides information in an easily understood format. The site includes information and resources on vaping, and aims to discourage teens from trying vaping (or smoking) in the first place. The site challenges them to think critically about vaping and how it fits with their goals and aspirations.

'Don't Get Sucked In' sits within the wider body of work conducted by ARFNZ to reduce the appeal of vaping (and smoking) to children and young people, and to promote healthy lungs.

As of June 2021, 484 retailers across New Zealand have applied to be specialist vaping retailers, meaning that vapes will continue to be prevalent in our communities. Wide availability conveys a message that vaping is largely harmless, and compounds a widespread misconception about vaping harm, that has stemmed largely from a 2015 report by Public Health England, which stated that vaping was "95 per cent less harmful" than smoking. The evidence used for this claim was weak, and it has been widely refuted.

"The findings from this report were used as a tag-line for the vaping industry and repeated in the media for many years," says Letitia. "Young people have heard this message and have unfortunately come to believe that vaping is safe, or perhaps assumed vaping to be only 5% harmful - we need to send a clear message and let them know that it isn’t."

For more information and resources on vaping, visit dontgetsuckedin.co.nz

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