Toddlers getting hands on vapes as black market emerges in schools - Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ

  • 11/03/2024

Toddlers are getting their hands on vapes as the industry booms among young people, according to the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ. 

It comes as a black market for vapes has emerged in schools, the foundation's youth vape educators have heard from students around the country. 

Sharon Pihema, who is one of two staff members dedicated to educating youth in schools on the harms of vaping, said she isn't surprised by some of the stories she's been hearing. 

Pihema's just finished a workshop with Year 7 and 8 students. 

"The youth vaping culture is out of control," she said in a statement on Monday. 

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

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ chief executive Letitia Harding said the Government needed to wake up and see youth vaping addiction as a separate issue to Smokefree.  

It comes after the National-led Government announced it would scrap New Zealand's world-leading goal to make the country smokefree by 2025 – a target introduced by Labour. 

"If horrific stories like this aren’t enough to get the Government to wake up, I don't know what is," Harding said. 

"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."