Findings from the Youth 19 vaping survey published today show 10% of young people aged 13-18 are regular vapers. Half of these rangatahi had not smoked before vaping.
Life Education Trust Chief Executive John O’Connell says schools are struggling to cope.
“We’ve been talking with school principals and teachers about the growing concern since 2019. Amending the Smokefree Act to protect young people took too long and vaping is now a bigger problem than smoking in young people,” says O’Connell.
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 (the Amendment Act) introduced provisions to ensure vaping products aren’t marketed or sold to young people and prohibiting vaping in schools.
In response to requests from teachers, Life Education Trust provided a vaping workshop in Christchurch earlier this year, with teachers from more than 30 schools in attendance.
According to O’Connell schools continue to reach out as they struggle to find support to deal with the increasing number of both primary and secondary school students’ vaping.
“Although vaping is a topic offered to schools in the Healthy Harold programme provided in mobile classrooms at primary and intermediate schools, we’re hearing that teachers and whānau need support to understand the issues and encourage young people to stop vaping or more importantly not try it, says O’Connell.
As a result in 2022, Life Education Trust will introduce a theatre-in-education programme to secondary schools, based on their successful alcohol education programme, SMASHED. Professional development workshops on vaping will also be offered to teachers and whānau throughout New Zealand.
The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation will be releasing the results of a national vaping survey soon and Life Education Trust will be working closely with them to use these learnings for education support to schools. With almost 22,000 secondary school respondents, it will provide data on the current prevalence and pattern of youth vaping in New Zealand.