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Greater Vaping Restrictions Should Be A Public Health Priority For The Next Government

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is calling for greater vaping regulations to be a priority for political parties this election year.

"The Foundation is one of many voices, which includes doctors’ groups, respiratory specialists, public health experts and educators, calling for leadership and action on vaping. Our current regulations are inadequate, and this has led to an unnecessary health crisis for our young people," says Foundation Chief Executive Letitia Harding.

"The concern that educators and health advocates share is that vapes, which have been promoted as a smoking cessation tool, are in fact being used far more commonly as recreational devices by large numbers of young New Zealanders many of whom were never smokers. There is now an abundant amount of published data showing the impacts of nicotine-containing vapes on education, mental and respiratory health in youth. For this to change, we need our decision makers to take decisive action," Ms Harding says.

The Foundation welcomed recent consultation from the Government on proposed new vaping restrictions but says those proposals do not go far enough. This is a view shared by other health groups like the Royal College of GPs, who have advocated for vaping products containing nicotine to be available only through pharmacies and services like Quitline, as a way of ensuring appropriate education accompanies sales.

"The Government realises that the availability of vapes is a problem for young people, which is why in their consultation document they included a proposal to limit the location of Specialist Vape Retailers away from schools and community groups," explains Ms Harding.

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"The problem is that we already have over 1100 vape stores in New Zealand, with many of these sited close to schools and community groups. Limiting the location of future stores will not make enough of a difference. We need to significantly reduce the current numbers of vape retailers, as the Government is doing with tobacco retailers," says Ms Harding.

Ms Harding says the Foundation also wants urgent action taken on how vape products are marketed and advertised to young people, particularly on social media and through online stores. "We also want to see decisive action taken on reducing the maximum nicotine salt level in vapes to 20 mg/ml, and for disposable vapes to be banned. These moves would make a real difference to reducing the addictiveness and availability of vapes to young people."

"Youth vaping is a significant health issue for New Zealand. Parents, educators and young people themselves are calling out for leadership on this issue. The Foundation’s hope is that politicians from all parties will heed this call and take action."

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