Thursday, May 23, 2024

Call to ban vape stores near schools

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is calling for a ban on vape stores being located near schools.

A new study out of the University of Canterbury – led by Dr Matt Hobbs – has found that students need to walk a mere five minutes from their school to find their nearest vape outlet, with 97% of all Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs) located within a 20-minute walk.

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ Chief Executive, Letitia Harding says feedback from students in the Foundation’s vaping educational workshops cite access as one of the biggest contributors to the uptake of vaping among youth.

“The flow-on effect from that is poor concentration and behaviour, which we know contributes to numerous vaping-related stand-downs at school,” Ms Harding says.

“We hear from lots of school principals and teachers asking for help to combat the vaping culture in schools – it’s prolific and harmful to both the health and academic achievements of our rangatahi.

“Yes, it is positive that cell phones are being banned in school, but it would also fit our youth if we stopped anymore SVRs from setting up shop.”

There are currently over 1,500 SVRs registered in New Zealand.

When a new law was implemented last year restricting the establishment of a vape store within 300 metres of a school or marae, it did not take into account those retailers who had already applied before the regulation took effect, Ms Harding says.

“Vape retailer owners always find a way to flout the law or manipulate it to work for them, so they can continue to sell these addictive products to our youth.”

“You only need to look at the many websites advertising ‘New Compliant Disposable Vapes’ to know that disposable vapes have not been banned.”

The study also found there were more vape shops in lower socio-economic areas. It was particularly prominent for Pasifika populations in major urban environments.

“Sadly, this comes as no surprise because we also know that fast food chains do the same thing,” said Ms Harding.

“It’s appalling that this is allowed to happen and if the Government don’t move and ban any more SVRs from setting up now, it’ll only get worse.”

The Foundation is calling for a ban on all disposable vapes (including those with removable batteries), no more SVRs set up, support for the Foundation’s vaping harm education programme for rangatahi, a nicotine content limit of 20 mg/mL for all vape products, a ban on all front-of-store advertising and displays of vaping products, and another look at the prescription model.

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