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Youth Regular Vaping Decreases For 2nd Year In A Row In 2023 Annual ASH Year 10 Survey, Daily Smoking Remains Very Low

The proportion of Year 10 students (14-15 years of age) vaping regularly has decreased significantly for the second year running in the annual ASH survey of Kiwi youth, dropping by almost 2 percent (18.2% in 2022, 16.4% in 2023).

ASH says it’s also very encouraging to see youth daily vaping rates not increasing, now plateauing at 10% and the number who have ever tried vaping also showed a significant decrease (40.1% to 37.5%).

ASH Director Ben Youdan says, “Aotearoa was very slow to regulate vaping, and we saw a rapid rise in youth use in the years up until 2021 but then we finally had some legislation put in place. Two years later, whilst the rate of youth use is still too high, it is good to see that fewer young people are vaping, and experimenting with vapes.”

“Regular” use is defined as using either daily, weekly or monthly, “Daily” use is using at least once a day, while “Ever tried” measures overall experimental use and current users.

With youth smoking, ASH is pleased that daily rates have shown no increase, staying stable at only 1.2% which amounts to only around 700 students across the country.

ASH says it’s also reassuring to see the numbers of those who have never tried a cigarette continuing to increase at a significant rate, reaching 87.8% compared to 85.8% last year.

“Young people are clearly rejecting tobacco, and these trends are echoed in the smoking data for young adults who have seen some of the biggest declines in smoking across the motu in recent years,” Mr Youdan says.

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ASH is also delighted to see an almost 4% increase in Māori youth never smoking rates (73.8% to 77.7%) and in particular an almost 6% increase never smoking by Māori girls (71% to 76.8%).

The vaping rates of Māori girls though, tell a more concerning story with this cohort vaping more than 2.5 times the average rate (almost 25% more).

ASH Board Member and head of the Māori SUDI prevention service, Fay Selby-Law says, “It is encouraging to see fewer Māori tamariki then ever smoking, and especially the jump in young wāhine who have never smoked. This follows the large recent declines in smoking amoung adults. However, there are still significant disparities, especially with vaping. Although vapes appear to be helping many adults stop smoking, we still need to be doing much more to keep them out of the hands of young people.”

While the survey found that generally daily smoking and vaping rates for most ethnicities and genders remained low and similar to last year, ASH says more urgent work is needed with Pacific teenagers. Their vaping rates are still slowly trending up, while their decline in smoking is slower than any other ethnicity.

ASH Board Member Sir Collin Tukuitonga says, “Despite gains in reducing smoking for almost all groups, progress remains far too slow for Pasifika, including preventing the uptake of vaping. It really reinforces why there is still a huge need for Pasifika led approaches that understand and work with our diverse communities on keeping youth smoking low, and reversing the rise of teen vaping.”

ASH’s Ben Youdan says that this year’s survey is some good news for our youth, “Even though there is widespread frustration about the repeals, we should celebrate the fact that overall young people are actually one step ahead of the policymakers, and rejecting smoking in greater numbers than ever.”

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