Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) has announced its plans today to launch a nationwide, youth focussed vaping education campaign, at the beginning of Term One 2020.

The ‘Don’t Get Sucked In’ campaign plans to tackle the growing number of non-smoking youths now using vaping devices as recreational tools, and educate these teens on the impact that vaping and e-cigarette products can have on their health.

The campaign is in response to recent pleas from principals across New Zealand for information and support around teenage vaping, and extended delays in introducing legal vaping regulations.

Patrick Walsh, principal of John Paul College, Rotorua, says that it is disappointing that the fight to eliminate smoking; which has gone on for decades, could be undone by the growing popularity of vaping.

"Vaping is gaining a strong foothold in our school community," says Patrick. "If things continue as they are for too much longer, it will be almost impossible to manage within the student population."

This sentiment is supported by other educators, including Richard Dykes, principal of Glendowie College and President of the Auckland Secondary School Principals' Association, who says that vaping in schools has reached "epidemic levels".

"We’re now seeing school age kids addicted to nicotine in numbers we haven’t seen in years", says Richard. "We have confiscated dozens of devices from students so far this year, and I have heard similar stories from other principals in the area. The situation has truly exploded within New Zealand’s secondary school population, and something needs to be done."

Given the proliferation of vaping and e-cigarettes within New Zealand’s youth culture, ARFNZ has recognised there is a clear urgency for a campaign of this nature says ARFNZ Chief Executive, Letitia Harding.

"Unfortunately, the Government has not indicated any plans to tackle this growing problem," says Letitia, "we feel it is essential that the Foundation responds to the concerns expressed by our schools and communities and leads the conversation around vaping with our youth."

‘Don’t Get Sucked In’ will consist of a cross-platform social media campaign alongside a series of posters, booklets, and other collateral aimed at educating youth around the health concerns associated with vaping in a positive and non-aggressive manner. It is hoped that this campaign will change current youth perception that vaping is without risk as a recreational tool. An additional Teachers’ Handbook will be available when the campaign launches to provide education and support to teachers on how to approach students who vape within their school.

"With this campaign we hope to shift the widespread public perception that vaping is harmless," says Letitia. "Vaping should only be as a smoking cessation tool for current smokers, after other proven smoking cessation products have failed, and only with wrap-around support services in place."

"Essentially, the consensus between us and educators is that, if we don’t act now, then we may be looking at yet another generation of nicotine-addicted adults."

The Foundation is open to working with other organisations surrounding the Don’t Get Sucked In campaign, to get involved, or to register to receive resources in the new year contact,