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Out of the mouths of babes: Students reveal solutions to curb vaping crisis

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation have been running nationwide workshops on vaping, and it appears young people are more concerned about its growing popularity than their adult counterparts.

School children want vapes to be harder to buy and more expensive, according to recent feedback provided to the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation.

In March, the coalition government announced it would ban single-use vapes as part of a crackdown on youth vaping, aiming to have all the changes in place by the end of the year.

Other measures included much bigger fines for selling vapes to under-18s, further retailer restrictions, and a better enforcement system to ensure they were following the rules.

But feedback provided in a series of workshops run at schools around the country show students want even stronger restrictions, with over 85 per cent of those surveyed saying New Zealand has a vaping crisis.

The foundation’s Māori community liaison Sharon Pihema spoke on 531pi's Pacific Mornings about her outreach work and she told William Terite it’s clear tighter controls are needed on the industry.

“We ask all the workshops a series of questions that are similar. One of the questions that I ask is 'have they ever been offered a vape before?'

“And over half of the students in every class will have been offered a vape, even at intermediate age. And when I ask them a little bit further around when they were first offered a vape - it's happening in primary school.”

Pihema said students were also well aware of the risks associated with vaping - offering their own ideas on how to curb its spread.

“A lot of them say that it's still really cheap to purchase. And they also think that with window displays and packaging, that there should be some restrictions around that.

"Even the prescription model, in terms of you having to go to a doctor or a pharmacist to get a script for a nicotine vape, that's a popular solution that comes through as well."

Pihema added that there needs to be an onus on families to be more informed about the risks their children are being exposed to.

“The message around vaping has always been as a quit smoking tool,” Pihema said.

“So often when I'm doing workshops and there are adults there or parents or whanau, it's a shock for them to hear some of the stuff that we talk about around vaping.

"So it is an education issue. I think that's really important so that we can then have those conversations with our young people about vaping so we’re all on the same page.”

Watch the full interview: