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Youth Vaping And Smoking Trends Moving In Right Direction, But Sustained Effort Is Needed

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is welcoming findings from the latest youth smoking and vaping survey which shows a continual decline in smoking rates.

"The findings from the ASH Year 10 survey are very encouraging. Smoking rates in this age group continue to fall and regular vaping rates have, for the first time, slightly decreased. The reversal in the youth vaping trend has to be attributed to the sustained mahi of many groups and individuals committed to vaping education and harm reduction, such as the Life Education Trust, the Foundation and specialist researchers and health professionals," says Foundation Chief Executive Letitia Harding.

The survey shows that daily smoking is now at 1.1% for the students surveyed however daily vaping rates remain high with 1 in 10 Year 10 students still vaping. Regular vaping rates (which includes daily, weekly or monthly vaping) has seen a small decrease from 20.2% last year to 18.2% in 2022.

"While the overall picture is improving, there are still areas of concern. Daily vaping continues to increase for Māori students, with the rates for Māori girls up from 21.3% to 25.2% this year. It is also concerning to see a growth in numbers of students who have never smoked, taking up vaping and numbers of students both smoking and vaping," says Ms Harding.

These findings show that continued and targeted efforts are needed to turn the tide on youth vaping says Ms Harding. "We can’t take our foot off the brakes now. The success of smokefree initiatives for young people can be seen in the dramatic decline in youth smoking rates over the last 20 years. We need to ensure that vape-free initiatives are also well resourced and supported to protect the health of our rangatahi."

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In addition to vaping harm education, the Foundation would also like to see tightening of vaping regulations to ensure the wellbeing of young people. "We would like a cap on the number of Specialist Vape Retailers in New Zealand, as we already have 1070 of these stores throughout our communities. Also, we urgently want to see the maximum level of nicotine allowed in vapes reduced from 50mg/ml to 20mg/ml in line with EU levels," Ms Harding says.

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