Number of youths vaping decreases, but data on Māori female teens a 'concerning story'

10:56 am on 11 December 2023
A teenager smokes an e-cigarette.

Photo: Unsplash

The number of youths regularly vaping has fallen for two years in a row, a new survey shows.

The survey of about 30,000 students, conducted by smokefree action group ASH, showed the amount of 14-15 year olds vaping daily, weekly or monthly was down from 18.2 percent in 2022 to 16.4 percent in 2022.

But the amount of Māori girls vaping told a "concerning story", with rates remaining high, and about 25 percent more than the average rate.

There was also no increase in the daily rate of youth smoking - with about 700 students across the country saying they do so.

In a media release, ASH director Ben Youdan said Aotearoa had been slow to put in legislation around vaping, which saw a "rapid rise" in youths doing so in the lead-up to 2021.

"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."

Youdan said it was "reassuring" to see the numbers of young people who have never tried a cigarette increase, with 87.8 percent this 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."

ASH's survey also showed an increase in Māori youth having never smoked.

Its board member and head of Māori SUDI prevention service, Fay Selby-Law, said it was encouraging.

"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 among 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."

ASH said more work needed to be done to help Pacific teenagers - as their vaping rates were creeping up, and the decline in smoking was slow.

ASH board member Sir Collin Tukuitonga said progress was "far too slow" for Pasifika.

"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."

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