Vaping reaches epidemic level among NZ youth

The health sector is only now recognising the emerging threat of a low-regulation environment on vaping uptake. Photo: SunLive.

Regulators’ attempts to create a smoke-free New Zealand have allowed vaping to emerge as a public health threat which has now reached “epidemic” levels among youth, an anaesthesia conference has been told.

Taranaki-based anaesthetist Dr Trent Cutts who has been speaking at the Aotearoa NZ Anaesthesia ASM 2023 in Dunedin, says the health sector is only now recognising the emerging threat of a low-regulation environment on vaping uptake.

“It’s a push fuelled by recognition that our youth or rangatahi, in New Zealand haven’t been considered enough in the strategy to make Aotearoa smoke-free," says Dr Cutts.

“There’s now without question a youth vaping epidemic around the world but particularly in New Zealand.”

Dr Cutts highlights differences between New Zealand and Australia, which he says is employing some of the strictest vaping regulations in the world.

In particular, the two countries are taking different approaches to vaping promotion.

“In Australia, vaping nicotine liquid is by doctor’s prescription only and it’s illegal to possess any vaping product without a prescription and the messaging from Australian health authorities is heavy on the warnings.

“And then, there’s New Zealand where we’ve fully embraced vaping as a smoking cessation tool and it’s been actively promoted."

Devices are freely available, and up until recently, there have been few restrictions on flavours and nicotine strengths, says Dr Trent.

“The World Health Organization released a report that is looking at how different countries around the world are affected by vaping. Alarmingly, they singled out New Zealand as the country that shows a clear increase in the use of nicotine and non-nicotine vaping products.”

Data also shows that New Zealand teenagers are not getting their vapes from specialist vape stores but from dairies, and are predominantly using products with high nicotine concentrations.

The main clinical evidence of the health impacts of vaping shows negative effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health.

Additionally, there is an “unrecognised epidemic of trauma and burns” associated with malfunctioning vapes, mainly related to their batteries. Heating coils in vaping devices are a possible source of heavy metals and the composition of flavours is also a concern.



Smoke free lie in NZ

Posted on 11-11-2023 14:48 | By Tga Citizen

We have been sold the biggest lie regarding smoke free NZ. All we have achieved is to introduce a more dangerous vice, similar to saying we have stopped drinking in bars, but have increased home sales exponentially. NZ is the second leading nation in the OECD for vaping, just behind Estonia. We are nearly 4 times the usage of Australia. Our children, and grandchildren will wonder why we promoted this poison, especially making the flavours more attractive and available to school children. If you need to find a vape store, just go to the nearest school. Tauranga Primary School has two shops across the road.

Another health failure

Posted on 11-11-2023 17:58 | By Let's get real

We now have vapes being shared around on school buses from senior students with intermediate students. How many 10 and 12 year old students were smoking cigarettes...? I have witnessed a student standing outside of a college, surrounded by intermediate students walking home and sitting on a school bus, puffing on a vape faster than you would smoke a cigarette. In my opinion, we need to have all alcohol, cigarettes and vapes sold through a limited number of stores that are properly licensed by the police, they must have cctv that is randomly audited and I.D. must be checked before a sale can be made. The start of a lot of misery was allowing alcohol sales in the same store as your groceries and allowing minors to accept it as a commonplace grocery item.


Posted on 11-11-2023 20:47 | By hexsayer

people need to stop singling out vape and e-juice flavours for why kids are smoking devices so much, if they hear say "cotton candy flavour" and it makes them want some, wouldnt they just get the $2 bag of candyfloss? youth have always smoked, people wonder how they get them, if they dont buy them themselves, because lets face it - most dairies dont care- parents usually dont realize their kids are smoking unless theyre caught stealing tobacco or whatever. dairies shouldnt be selling items that have restrictions full stop, its not racism its common sense.

The Master

Posted on 12-11-2023 13:39 | By Ian Stevenson

Vaping is in many ways worse than smoke cigs. Certainly flavours make it worse.

Treat it the same as Cig users...
- Make the tax the same as cigs
- Double the tax ever year
- if you smoke or vap then you are at the bottom of the waiting list for health etc as you intentionally did it all.

There were serious warnings...

Posted on 13-11-2023 11:00 | By morepork

... from myself and a number of others who had done the research on vaping and seen what the statistics revealed. You weren't "sold" vaping as a solution to smoking, the data always said that it wasn't. And the studies appearing to support it were all from vested interests with very shaky bases. But, instead of doing independent research, or even stopping and thinking about the full repercussions, or even noticing the warnings from people like me, you CHOSE to see it as a solution. Overseas interests are making a fortune off the misery that we have allowed to be inflicted on us. It should be banned, all shops closed down, and no further licenses to sell vaping materials issued. Give existing businesses 6 months to close themselves down and find another way to make a living. Addicts must take responsibility for themselves. Money spent on vaping, could help.

Not helped when gov promoted it

Posted on 13-11-2023 12:24 | By Paul W2

I remember back in 2018 / 19 seeing government sponsored ads on TV and on radio promoting vaping as the "safe" alternative to smoking. Now it looks like they promoted this too well and want it stopped.

@Paul W2

Posted on 13-11-2023 15:36 | By morepork

You are right. It is amazing how quickly they can accept something as long as they can license or tax it; never mind if clear scientific evidence condemns it, they go for the money every time...

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