Vaping only worth doing to curb smoking addiction - Ministry of Health advisor

It's difficult to imagine a parent who'd allow their teenagers to take up smoking. But what if your teen turned around and asked to try vaping instead?

The Heart Foundation says people should steer clear of vaping, unless they're trying to quit cigarettes.

The Project asked New Zealand parents of teens aged between 13 and 19 what they thought. Results show 57 percent  would be happy letting their 16-year-old try beer, but just 9 percent would let them go near a vape.

Last month, a survey of almost 30,000 year 10 students in New Zealand found vaping was largely confined to the minority who were already puffing on cigarettes.

Just to keep the kids confused, it's illegal for anyone under 18 to buy any vape product, but it is acceptable for your 16-year-old to vape.

Vape retailer and Ministry of Health Vaping Advisory Group member QJ Satchell told The Project vaping is not something they want people who have never smoked to take up.

"If my child - he's coming up to 16 pretty soon - if he was going to smoke or vape, I would definitely prefer that he took the vaping option for sure," he said.

"We don't want people who have never smoked or puffed on anything in their life to give it a shot.

"Through the New Zealand Vaping Alliance, I've got pretty good contact with most of the players in the game around the country, and I don't know of any vape retailer that has a focus on selling these products to people who are underage."

In the UK, the number of adolescents vaping has doubled in the past five years.

One person The Project spoke to had just started vaping.

"It's got quite big on social media, and I think it's kind of influenced a lot of people to pick it up," she said.

Another said it "seems healthier" than smoking.

"You don't end up with the bad smell of nicotine or tobacco on you, and it's sort of become a big social trend," he said. "Younger people are starting to get into it more because it's pretty easy to get your hands on  vape."

Lower cost was also an attraction, another woman said.

The good news for parents is the Ministry of Health says vaping is much less risky than actual smoking.


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