Call for vape stores to be banned from within 1km of schools as student vaping grows

A health lobby group is calling for vape stores to be banned from operating within a kilometre of schools.

The number of retailers stocking vaping products has exploded in recent years and there's concern about the growing number of school students using them.

They seem to be everwhere now. The vaping sector is growing at record speed and it's causing concern.

"Smoking is diminishing and vaping seems to be increasing at an alarming rate," Secondary Principals' Association president Vaughan Couillault said.

In fact there are now over 700 vaping specialist stores around the country.

"To put that into perspective there's less than 300 KFC and McDonald's stores around the country," said Asthma and Respiratory Foundation CE Letitia Harding.

Harding said while vaping was first introduced as a less harmful alternative to smoking for adults, young people are picking up the habit.

A recent survey of 19,000 secondary students found the percentage of year 10 students vaping every day tripled from 3.1 percent to 9.6 percent in the two years to November.

"And those experimenting with vaping had increased from 36 percent to 43 percent," Harding added.

That has principals concerned for their students.

"Falling off a two-storey balcony is better than a three-storey balcony but they're both things you want to avoid," Couillault said.

Because vapes contain nicotine and can be highly addictive.

"We're hearing from concerned parents and students that they can go through an e-cigarette pod in two or three hours so that's the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes for nicotine," Harding said.

And the apparent easy access teenagers have to vaping products is causing concern, because some stores are in walking distance to schools.

In one block there's two shops selling vaping products, and just across the road is a high school.

It's illegal to sell vaping products to anyone under 18, and the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is calling for retailers stocking vape products to be banned within 1km of schools.

The Secondary Principals' Association is appealing to retailers too.

"Have a think about their proximity to young and vulnerable students and what impact you might have on their lives and their community," Couillault said.

Encouraging vaping is part of the Government's plan to stamp out smoking, but concerns remain about the impact on young people.