Last month, the Foundation released the results of one of the largest ever surveys looking at the vaping habits of secondary school students. The survey was undertaken in response to growing concerns raised by parents, teachers and schools around the epidemic of teen vaping and the harms associated with it.
To carry out the survey, the Foundation partnered with the Secondary Principals’ Association of NZ (SPANZ). Over 19,000 students in Years 9-13 were asked about their vaping and smoking habits, and participation was anonymous and voluntary.
What the survey found:
• 27% of those surveyed reported vaping and 15% reported smoking traditional cigarettes in the past week.
• 75% of those vaping, or 20% of total respondents, are vaping daily or several times a day, and the majority are vaping with high nicotine doses.
• Over half of those vaping reported that they were vaping more frequently and at higher nicotine doses compared to last year.
• 86% of students who were vaping more than once a day reported that they were addicted to vaping and 57% felt that it was having an adverse effect on their health.
• The most common source of supply for students was from dairies.
Is teen vaping on the rise?
Yes. The results of the survey show a major increase in vaping rates compared with surveys which collected data two years ago. It’s clear that many young people are picking up high nicotine vapes without ever having smoked a cigarette, and swiftly becoming addicted to nicotine.
Where do teens get their vapes?
The survey showed that the majority of young people are buying their vapes at dairies, despite the fact that sale to under18s is prohibited. It is hoped that the recent regulations introduced under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990, including limiting the vape flavours that can be sold by general retailers like dairies, will help to curb this trend.
What are the risks of vaping?
While vapes might be less harmful than combustible cigarettes, they still expose users to toxic substances that have been shown to adversely affect the heart and lungs. New evidence is emerging regularly about the harms caused by e-cigarettes. What’s more, vaping carries specific risks for adolescents, whose brains and bodies are still developing. Many young people perceive vaping as harmless, but this is far from the truth; there is increasing evidence showing significant health risks. For example, vaping with nicotine has been consistently associated with depression, ADHD and conduct disorders in adolescents, and nicotine exposure has been shown to impact learning and memory.
What needs to change?
The Foundation has made some recommendations to try to combat the problem of teen vaping. These include:
1. Introducing regulations to limit the content of nicotine available in vaping products sold in New Zealand to a maximum of 20mg.
2. Raising the legal age to purchase vape products to 21 years.
3. Banning in-front-of-store window advertising and product display by retailers.
4. Preventing the sale of vaping products within a one-kilometre radius of any school by retailers.
5. Emphasising Aotearoa educational campaigns aimed at youth, and focused on the health harms that vaping can cause.
6. Conducting further surveys to investigate the impact of the new regulations introduced under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990.
Has your teen been sucked in?
The Foundation’s vaping education site, Don’t Get Sucked In, offers a wealth of information and resources for teenagers about vaping. It informs and educates young people about the risks of vaping and encourages them not to try it in the first place.
Visit dontgetsuckedin.co.nz and get educated about vaping. Knowledge is power!