Children young as 6 caught vaping - principals' association

Students as young as six years old are taking up vaping in what's being described as an "epidemic in schools".

Principals are calling for tougher restrictions after Australia announced a major crackdown.

But some experts argue it won't have the desired outcome.

Vaping in high schools is no longer a rare sight, but Auckland Primary Principals' Association president Kyle Brewerton's revelation may come as a shock

"The ages of these students, little guys, you know 6-7-year-olds are turning up with them."

Brewerton said vapes in primary schools are becoming much more common and the way they're getting them is ringing alarm bells.

"A lot of the high school students will be running little side hustles where they're basically selling vapes and contents to our younger students," Brewerton said.

And further south in Hawke's Bay, it's no different.

"It has reached epidemic proportions," said Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools' Principals' Association chair Dawn Ackroyd.

And on top of that, Ackroyd said they're an increase in the number of students who are addicted and need support. 

Last year, Ackroyd wrote a letter on behalf of the association to the then-Education and Health Ministers urging action.

The current Health Minister, Ayesha Verrall, said vapes are a crucial tool to help people give up smoking, but banning them altogether is not on the agenda. 

Minister Verrall said a better balance is needed to make them less attractive and available to young people. 

National leader Christopher Luxon told AM the National Party is prepared to crack down if elected. 

"We've got our vaping settings all wrong and we're going to regret it big time. I'm up for looking at bans."

Action for Smokefree 2025 director Ben Youdan said adopting a prescription-only approach like Australia won't fix the problem.

"Australia has had prescription-only for a number of years now. Yet, they're at 14 percent youth vaping, so it's not necessarily stopping young people accessing vapes. And the vapes they are accessing are illegal."

Creating a new market which many here are trying to avoid.