Petition Presentation Speeches
Speeches made at Parliament during the presetation of the Vape-Free Kids NZ petition on 16 August, 2023.
Charyl Robinson, Vape-Free Kids NZ:
Kia ora koutou. My name is Charyl Robinson and I am the Wellington spokesperson for VFKNZ. On behalf of VFKNZ I would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has gathered here today while we mark the presentation of the petition of Charlotte Christie to Parliament.
Charlie’s petition calls on our government to ban the sale of vaping products in non-vape store premises such as dairies, supermarkets, and service stations; and to improve regulations on Specialist Vape Retailers.
The core working group of Vape-Free Kids is made up of a group of mothers who are concerned about the youth vaping epidemic our country is in the grip of and are determined to make our decision makers take notice of the devastating impact it is having on the tamariki and rangatahi of Aotearoa.
In the 14 weeks since VFKNZ was founded, our community has grown to over 1,800 members. In this group there are educators, health professionals, scientists, experts and whānau, all just as concerned as those of us standing here today about the harm being caused to our tamariki and rangatahi.
With cigarettes now on the way out, tobacco companies have pivoted and with their clever marketing, lolly flavours and toy-like devices, they are lining up a new generation of nicotine addicts - OUR CHILDREN.
They are doing this to secure the future success of their industry in Aotearoa. We are here today as the voice of the many thousands of people who signed Charlie’s petitions to say to those who work in that building that the wellbeing of the children in this country is more important than the profits of tobacco companies. We are here to remind them of their obligations under
the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We are a rapidly growing group with a formidable team of passionate wāhine, fierce mama bears at the helm.
We are determined but we are not the first.
Over a year ago now an impressive collective of rangatahi called The Hashtags from over those hills in Wainuiomata presented their own petition and made oral submissions to the Health Select Committee on this topic. We very proudly look at them as pioneers of this kaupapa and the bright future protectors of the tamariki and rangatahi of Aotearoa against this threat.
Catherine Manning, Takiri Mai Te Ata Regional Stop Smoking Manager at Kokiri Marae.
Our mokopuna are all our most precious taonga. Every one of us has a responsibility to keep them safe and well under the korowai of our love and care as a society no matter what ethnic, cultural and economic background they have been nurtured in.
Our future depends on our mokopuna and their potential to grow into the leaders of tomorrow. They are the ones who will keep us well and safe and understand their role in nurturing the next generation to do what is right for them. If they’re not nurtured and looked after now, there is little hope for the future of a society where whanau have the capability or capacity to live well and have communities where they can thrive.
It is a statement of fact that we have failed our mokopuna in allowing vape products and the accessibility of vape products into their world, continuously stealing their potential now and into their future.
We as adults have failed to protect them, by not learning lessons from the past in keeping products designed to addict their user out of their hands, and out of their community. Even more distressing, vape products populate every facet of their world, at home, at school, at play and with their peers, and still we keep telling our mokopuna they are the most precious toanga we have but our actions say otherwise.
The messages that we as adults have designed for adults have failed to recognise the value of our mokopuna and their right for protection as a critical part of their whole whanau. Profit over people keeps driving the epidemic that is vaping, and distribution of vape products in all forms that are the deliverer of addiction.
When did we stop protecting our most vulnerable, and for it to become okay for 7500 vape retail shops to be in all communities where our mokopuna live, play and thrive?
Sadly, we have created a world that is profit driven and not future focused. For those who feel sorry for the loss of income to all vape retailers because we are advocating for regulations and legislation that will restrict public access, what you are advocating for is increased profit for retailers and a future stolen from our mokopuna.
It is not a right to steal the future of our mokopuna with addiction, and to keep these vape products a normal part of their world. It is not a right to continue to fight for the continuation of the use of vape products designed to addict our mokopuna. It is not a right to take away our right as parents, to parent, by creating access to vape products that are not safe in our community. From the very beginning, the kind of parenting our mokopuna receive influences their development throughout life.
One of the most important things that all children need from their parents is feeling they’re loved and feeling safe. Today we are standing here on the steps of government to advocate for the leaders of today to protect our leaders of tomorrow, do not avert your eyes from what is in front of us all, is the measures you are using for the use of vape products for adults or is it for our mokopuna.
Every parent from every walk of life designed their hopes and dreams for the future of our mokopuna. Vape products are robbing every parent and every mokopuna from seeing the realisation of these hopes and dreams, and an even greater crime is we could do something to stop the carnage now, but will we do what is right or will we do what is politically easy?
Today, on these steps of political change, will you fight for the future of our mokopuna? Or protect the profits of all vape retailers? It is always your choice, which choice you make, but not the choice of our mokopuna.
Charlie Christie, Petition Organiser:
Kia ora koutou.
Thank you all for coming out today to support this presentation. My name is Charlie and I started these petitions a few months ago out of frustration, anger and love. Frustration about children and young people feeling like they do not have the basic right and necessity of going to the bathroom during school hours, anger, because young people are able to access vapes and their products so easily and appear to have no qualms about walking down the street doing it, and love, because my own son, who is so talented in many areas has fallen victim to the flavours of these products and has given away all his dreams to them.
Over 13,000 people signing the petitions have agreed that these products are severely damaging not only to those children that do it, but also those community members who do not. Teachers, struggling to contain and teach a class because students are leaving to go the bathrooms to vape or getting irritable in class because they can’t. Children who do not vape, their classes are interrupted by those leaving. The parents and families of the children vaping are now in turmoil over youth addiction, dairy owners, who sell the vapes and their products are put at risk by ram raids and burglaries. This is unfair, unjust and as a government you are in such a privileged position to be able to change it all.
Children need be just that... children. Young people should be emerging from their rooms smelling like stinky teens not cotton candy, watermelon fizz or unicorn breath. Children’s pocket money should be being spent on childhood things, not fruity flavoured nicotine containing, addictive vapes obtained from the local dairy. Parents should be enjoying the few years they have with their children, not searching through drawers and school bags, attending disciplinary meetings and going through unnecessary stress and grief.
They say it takes a village to raise a child so on behalf of my 14 year old son and the 13,000 members of the village of 5 million, I am presenting you with the petitions to remove and ban the sale of vapes and vaping products from dairies and other non vape store premises. We urge you to change legislation and help keep our tamariki and rangatahi safe so that in another 30 years we won’t be recreating history and faced with trying to make the country vape free.