Increasing vaping outlets near schools, playgrounds fueling rangatahi vaping

Health experts call for law changes to put in place no vape shop zones in children’s areas

A vape store has recently opened in Kopeopeo in Whakatāne, 350m from Whakatāne High School and just under 300m from primary school, St Joseph’s Catholic School.

Māori Women’s Welfare League Waiariki Area Representative Fiona Wiremu is astonished.

“How can a vape store be given a license to sell in Kopeopeo, an are with high needs deprivation, that is largely Māori, and has a lot of rangatahi and tamariki walking through?”

She is concerned that having vape stores near kura in a route traveled by rangatahi and tamariki make it more accessible and in time will become more normalized.

“It’s the addiction I am worried about because we are being given this alternative to smokes as the lesser of two evils. But we know any addition is harmful and I am worried about the effects on our rangatahi and tamariki 10 or 15 years into the future.” 

In the Horowhenua town of Levin, a vape store sits across the road from Adventure Park, a well know and frequented family playground.

The store is called Adventure Vape, which Takiri Mai Te Ata Regional Stop Smoking Manager Catherine Manning says is clearly marketing towards tamariki and rangatahi who visit the park. 

“Vape stores are deliberately, maliciously, creating spaces that attract addiction for our tamariki and rangatahi.” 

For Ms Manning, the issue is about protection of our whakapapa and hā. 

“When we want to pōwhiri or whakatau someone into our environments, as part of our customary practice, we hariru and we share hā. Smoking and vaping changes the wairua and intent of what we’re sharing.

“We need to protect our whakapapa, and that means ensuring our rangatahi and tamariki aren’t isolated and treated differently in discussions on auahi kore. We need to start seriously interrupting how they’re being targeted by the Tobacco and vaping industry. Our goal was always focused on elimination of harm for our people and these products are harmful.” 

Andrew Waa, Associate Professor Eru Pomare Māori Health Research Centre and Co-Director ASPIRE2025, says there’s been increases in vaping amongst all young people but particularly rangatahi Maori, who’ve seen daily vaping rates increase 10 – 20 per cent. He says this goes against the stated purpose of vapes.

“The pathway from trying it to being addicted is much faster than cigarettes.

“If we want vaping to be a cessation device, the most logical way is to only offer it to those who’re quitting smoking so rangatahi don’t get access.” 

HCA is calling for the vaping regulations to include a prohibition of new vaping stores around schools, parks, playgrounds and other children’s settings, while also revoking licensing for existing stores in these areas. HCA will be submitting proposals for the Smoked Tobacco Regulatory Regime. Submissions close 5.00 pm, Wednesday 15 March 2023.

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