Fuseworks Media

Black market for vapes emerges in schools – ARFNZ

A black market for vapes has sprung up in schools, while toddlers are getting their hands on their older siblings’ vapes.

These are just some of the shocking stories the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ’s youth vape educators hear from students around the country at their school workshops.

Foundation Chief Executive Ms Letitia Harding says it is so upsetting to hear feedback from the workshops like this.

“If horrific stories like this aren’t enough to get the government to wake up, I don’t know what is.”

Ms Sharon Pihema, one of two Foundation staff members dedicated to educating youth in schools on the harms of vaping, says she hears some unimaginable stories from students and teachers.

“However, I’m almost at the point where I’m not surprised by what I hear. The youth vaping culture is out of control.”

Ms Pihema had just finished a workshop with a group of Year 7 and 8 students who shared some shocking statistics.

“Of the students I visited in one school, 73% had been offered a vape, 77% of them had tried vaping, 88% of them believed we had a youth vaping epidemic and 100% had never touched a cigarette.”

Ms Harding says the government needs to wake up and see youth vaping addiction as a separate issue to Smokefree.

“If our new Government are really as committed as they say they are to stamping out the youth vaping epidemic, then they should be meeting with the Foundation not vaping manufacturers and businesses that sell vapes.”

The Foundation and its esteemed medical and scientific advisory board were one of the very first organisations to raise concerns around youth vaping to the Ministry of Health in 2017.

With the government slow to react – or even acknowledge the risk of a youth vaping epidemic – the Foundation moved quickly to develop a youth vaping educational website www.dontgetsuckedin.co.nz, launch the first dedicated youth vaping national survey, introduce vaping educational workshops in schools, and write the first NZ reference guide to support adolescents to quit vaping.

The Foundation did this with with no government support.