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Rising Youth Vaping Figures Add To Despair For Families Caught In Epidemic

Vaping addiction is wreaking havoc in families as daily vaping rates amongst teenagers nearly doubles in one year, increasing from 8.3% to 15.4% for 15-17 year olds, according to new figures just released by the NZ Health Survey.

Vape-Free Kids NZ co-founder Marnie Wilton says the new data confirms what they have been hearing from the thousands of concerned whānau joining the group.

“The stories from families grappling with their children’s addiction to vaping are heartbreaking. We are devastated that this issue is continuing to be left to grow unchecked, while the government focuses on repealing the legislation that would have started to make a difference. They are dismissing all the research and providing absolutely no evidence for their path.”

“Families are desperate, they are turned away from stop smoking services and have no control over the proliferation of vape retailers turning up in every place their children frequent - including the school gates,” Wilton says.

One mum shares, “Our 15 year old first tried vaping when a friend in year nine shared theirs with him. He was 12 years old. Three years later, he is heavily addicted to nicotine. He has given up twice and is currently trying desperately to give up a third time using nicotine gum and patches prescribed by his doctor. It's not going well. He has lung issues from heavy vaping and vaped through three bouts of bronchitis last year.”

“I am angry, horrified, and absolutely gutted. The burden of addiction is very depressing and very real. The self hatred he feels for being addicted, the emotional upset and anger when he tries to stop, the lying to his parents, the illegal behavior he is engages in with utterly complicit adults who sell directly over the counter to him when he goes out to buy vape juice, it's all real and it is bad.”

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Another parent says “What is happening to our children is devastating. Ever since my 13 year old daughter started high school vaping has played a major part in her life. I was heartbroken, first came anger, then tears and worry, then feelings of being ashamed that my 13 year old was vaping. Her gymnastics has also suffered. She’s too tired, no energy, short of breath. She has now decided to leave. I have asked her why she does it. She just says she likes it, likes the taste and wants to do it and everyone is doing it. How do I stop that? It is everywhere. Anyone, any age can get their hands on a vape.”

Vape-Free Kids NZ have been calling for the Government to do better and are appalled that this issue has not been given priority in the Government's 100 day plan.

“We need the government to step up with more support for struggling families. Smokefree services are not funded to support vapers or those under 18.” says Wilton.

“Availability of vapes also needs to be addressed with urgency. They are so easy for children to get their hands on with stores on every corner and woefully inadequate enforcement of the regulations.”

“Both major parties promised crackdowns on vaping before the election, but now that the dust has settled, all of that has evaporated like a vape cloud. What’s worse, the repeal of the Smokefree laws will just make it even easier for children who are already addicted to nicotine from vaping to access cigarettes.”

“Our families are at the coalface of this epidemic, yet the government will not listen to what we are trying to tell them. These numbers tragically show what we have been warning since the beginning. Their inaction is not good enough, and our children are paying the price.”

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