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Vaping Still Up In The Air

Daily vaping rates among our youth are still too high, the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation says.

This follows the publication of the 2023 Topline ASH Year 10 Snapshot Survey results which show no decline in daily vaping or smoking rates.

Foundation Chief Executive Ms Letitia Harding says although it is positive to see the regular use of vaping decline slightly overall for 14 and 15 year olds by 1.8%, daily vaping rates remain at 10% and this is still way too high.

"Smoking rates were already on a downwards trajectory, so vaping certainly wasn’t the answer to quit smoking, and it never has been.

"Unfortunately for our rangatahi, vaping was just added to the mix - a new product that really didn’t need to be there."

The fact that 32% of Māori Year 10s, 22.5% Pacific (up from 19.8%) and 13.9% of European NZ 14- and 15-year-olds still vape regularly is not good enough, Ms Harding says.

"We want to see it at zero."

Ms Harding attributes the regular vaping decline to education.

"Knowledge is a powerful tool and is key to reducing the use of vapes in our rangatahi," she says.

The Foundation has been raising awareness and promoting education on the dangers of vaping through its website, and through partnerships with other organisations such as Life Education Trust NZ for years.

"This was an investment we made early on, with no funding from the Government," Ms Harding says.

"We knew the demand was, and still is there, and it would be great if the new government recognised the work we have done in this space so we can keep doing the mahi, but I’m not holding my breath."

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Sharon Pihema, the Foundation’s only Āpiha Takawaenga Māori (Māori Community Liaison), offers youth vaping education workshops and resources to schools around the country, and the demand is huge.

"Schools and parents have been struggling with a vaping epidemic for nearly five years and that needs to change," Ms Pihema says.

"We need more education and more support.

"When you hear of tamariki as young as 8 years old now addicted to vaping, it just shows how bad the epidemic still is."

Last month, the Foundation released the first New Zealand guidelines to support youth to quit vaping. ‘ A reference guide: To support rangatahi to quit vaping’ is aimed at helping health professionals who work with adolescents and young adults (AYA) to tackle vaping and e-cigarette addiction.

The Foundation’s work raising public awareness and education around the harms of vaping was recognised earlier this year by The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) when Ms Harding received the 2023 President’s Award, an award first presented to former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark for her commitment to lung health.

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