4 May 2023

NZ should follow Australia on vaping laws to combat youth “epidemic”

From Nine To Noon, 9:07 am on 4 May 2023
Portrait of asian woman smoking vape or e-cigarette in neon light at black background

Photo: 123RF

Educators and public health experts want New Zealand to follow Australia's lead and ban recreational vaping to address what they describe as a growing epidemic in young people.

Some school principals here are reporting children as young as eight being caught with e-cigarettes at school, while other children struggle with addiction.

Ministry of Health statistics show the number of young New Zealanders aged 15 to 17 who vape every day has quadrupled in three years, from two percent in 2018-19 to eight percent in 2021-22.

For rangatahi Māori, particularly girls, vaping rates are even higher. 

Australia's crackdown includes a ban on recreational use of e-cigarettes, limiting vape flavours, bringing in "pharmaceutical-style" packaging, reducing nicotine content, banning disposable vapes, and halving imports of non-prescription e-cigarettes. 

Our government has ruled out following suit - at least in this term.

Kathryn speaks with Dr Anita Jagroop-Dearing, associate professor at Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke's Bay, researching why students vape, and how to bring rates down. Also, Shane Ngatai is the principal of Rhode Street School in Dinsdale, Hamilton.