Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Asthma Foundation says vaping rates still too high

Daily vaping rates among New Zealand’s youth population are still too high, the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation said today.

The comment follows the publication of the 2023 Topline ASH Year 10 Snapshot Survey results, which show no decline in daily vaping or smoking rates.

Foundation Chief Executive, Letitia Harding says while it is positive to see the regular use of vaping decline slightly overall for 14 and 15 year olds by 1.8%, daily vaping rates remain “too high” at 10%.

“Smoking rates were already on a downwards trajectory, so vaping certainly wasn’t the answer to quit smoking, and it never has been,” said Ms Harding.

“Unfortunately for our rangatahi, vaping was just added to the mix – a new product that really didn’t need to be there.”

“The fact that 32% of Māori Year 10s, 22.5% Pacific (up from 19.8%) and 13.9% of European NZ 14- and 15-year-olds still vape regularly is not good enough. We want to see it at zero.”

Ms Harding attributes the decline in regular vaping figures to better education.

“Knowledge is a powerful tool and is key to reducing the use of vapes in our rangatahi,” she said.

The Foundation has been raising awareness and promoting education on the dangers of vaping through its website, and through partnerships with other organisations such as Life Education Trust NZ for years.

“This was an investment we made early on, with no funding from the Government,” Ms Harding says.

“We knew the demand was, and still is there, and it would be great if the new government recognised the work we have done in this space so we can keep doing the mahi, but I’m not holding my breath.”

The Foundation’s only Āpiha Takawaenga Māori (Māori Community Liaison), Sharon Pihema offers youth vaping education workshops and resources to schools around the country, and says the demand is huge.

“Schools and parents have been struggling with a vaping epidemic for nearly five years and that needs to change,” Ms Pihema says.

“We need more education and more support. When you hear of tamariki as young as 8 years old now addicted to vaping, it just shows how bad the epidemic still is.”

Last month, the Foundation released the first New Zealand guidelines to support youth to quit vaping. ‘ A reference guide: To support rangatahi to quit vaping’ is aimed at helping health professionals who work with adolescents and young adults (AYA) to tackle vaping and e-cigarette addiction.

The Foundation’s work raising public awareness and education around the harms of vaping was recognised earlier this year by The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) when Ms Harding received the 2023 President’s Award, an award first presented to former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark for her commitment to lung health.

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