Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) stands in solidarity with the parents’ movement Vape-Free Kids and their petitions calling on the Government to protect children from vaping addiction.
Vape-Free Kids NZ are handing over their petitions to Dr Tracey McLellan, Chair of the Health Select Committee and MP for Banks Peninsula on the steps of Parliament today at 12.30 pm on Wednesday, August 16.
The petitions, launched on March 27 and April 3, call for a ban the sale of vaping products in non-vape store premises such as dairies, supermarkets, and service stations; and improved regulations on Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs) and have attracted over 12,000 signatures.
In 2017, The Hashtags, a group of rangatahi from Wainuiomata, pleaded with the Māori Affairs Select Committee and the Health Select Committee to protect them from the harm caused by vaping products, to make sure they did not inherit the legacy of nicotine addiction, that past generations inherited through tobacco products.
In 2022, they presented their own petition asking for restrictions on the number of retail outlets that allowed in communities where tamariki and young people lived, educated and played.
HCA Smoke-free Expert Advisory Group member and Regional Manager, Takiri Mai te Ata Regional Stop Smoking Service Whanau Ora Collective Catherine Manning said:
“We as adults have failed to protect our mokopuna, by not learning lessons from the past in keeping products designed to addict their user out of their hands and out of their community.”
Manning said the proliferation of vaping stores has created a nicotine addiction epidemic among tamariki and rangatahi.
“The harm is that we’re going to end up with a population of young people who are having their futures stolen from these vape products because they are being suspended and expelled from schools and unable to learn because they are addicted and craving their next fix of nicotine through the use of vape products.”
Government regulations announced in June this year, aimed at reducing access to vapes and vaping stores by young people, were completely inadequate, Manning said.
A ban on new specialist vape retailers (SVRs) from setting up within 300 kilometres from schools or maraes did not include general vape retailers (GVRs) such as dairies or service stations.
Alarmingly, since the government announced these measures, new SVRs have been approved and set up shop within these exclusion zones prior to new regulations coming into effect at the end of the month.
HCA Smoke-free Expert Panel chair and Hāpai te Hauora national tobacco control manager Leitu Tufuga said the huge response to the petitions and support for Vape-Free Kids NZ demonstrated the severity of vaping harm.
Tufuga said cessation services were spending most of their time responding to harms from vaping addiction, and more funding and resources were urgently needed.
“What we’re seeing on the ground is a tsunami of young people who are addicted to vaping, who have never smoked before, and concerned parents who are struggling with this issue and don’t have the tools to support their young people or protect their tamariki.”
Leitu Tufuga – 021469913
Catherine Manning – 02102642354