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Vape-Free Kids NZ Demands Stronger Action To Tackle Youth Vaping

Vape-Free Kids NZ, a grassroots group of parents and whānau wanting to reduce harm to rangatahi from vaping, says that today’s announcement by the government does not go far enough to protect young people.

Spokesperson Marnie Wilton says while the proposal to ban new vape shops from opening within 300 metres of schools and marae is a step in the right direction, it will do nothing to tackle the issue of the large numbers of stores already in operation.

“The government needs to act now to stop the sale of vapes in dairies, especially those in close proximity to schools and kura.  We are deeply concerned about the welfare of our rangatahi given the cynical and blatant promotion of vaping targeting young people.”

When it comes to child safety mechanisms such as more generic names for vape flavours, Wilton argues that even names such as ‘berry’ would not be enough to prevent children from being enticed by them.

“If the goal is smoking cessation, simply having plain or menthol flavours should be more than sufficient. Retaining the ability for vape companies to market a large range of fruity flavours makes no sense."

Vape-Free Kids NZ is not anti-vaping as a tool for smokers who want to quit, but wants the government to strike the right balance between providing harm-reducing alternatives to cigarettes, and protecting those who have never smoked before vaping.

“We have worked so hard as a country to reduce smoking, and it is ironic that the tool we elected to help smokers quit is actually causing an alarming spike in nicotine addiction amongst young people."

Daily vaping among teenagers in Aotearoa has tripled since 2019, and a study of early high school students revealed that almost 30 percent of daily vapers had never smoked cigarettes.

“Parents and whānau across the motu are calling for more stringent measures to address the youth vaping crisis. Plans announced today are inadequate.”

Vape-Free Kids NZ was created three weeks ago and already has more than 950 members. The group has launched two petitions calling for action on the issue: (2,500 signatures to date) and  (4,500 signatures to date).