Youth Vaping Crisis: New Measures Implemented, Backed by Principals

Youth Vaping Crisis: New Measures Implemented, Backed by Principals

In order to combat the escalating crisis of youth vaping, the government is working with school principals to take decisive steps.

There have been significant measures announced in an effort to combat the problem. Beginning in August, all vapes will need removable or replaceable batteries, effectively banning disposables.

To limit the accessibility of vape shops to young people, new vape shops will not be permitted within a 300 metre radius of schools or marae.

The government is cracking down on enticing flavour names to discourage youth vaping.

Previously attractive names like "strawberry jelly donut" will be prohibited, and only generic flavour descriptors, such as "berry," will be accepted.

Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall, who announced these changes, emphasised that the restrictions aim to address the high prevalence of teenage vaping.

This will reduce the number of young people adopting the habit.
Cracking down on enticing flavours

Some young people interviewed in central Christchurch were sceptical about the effectiveness of these measures, pointing out that vapes are widely available in dairies and online.

It is still imperative that action be taken in light of recent statistics.

Teenagers aged 13 to 14 who vape daily have suddenly increased by 209 percent, according to a study conducted by ASH New Zealand.

Among 15- to 17-year-olds, daily vaping rates have quadrupled since 2018, reaching eight percent in 2021-22 from just two percent in 2018-19, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

In a recent speech, Principals Federation President Leanne Otene stressed that vaping affects intermediates across the country as well as high schools. In light of vaping's discrete nature and the absence of detectable odour, teachers feel powerless to address the issue.

A vaping detector was considered for schools, but proved too expensive. Otene praised any measures that would discourage children from vaping, including marketing bubblegum and fruit flavours to children.

She also highlighted the disproportionately high rates of Māori youth vaping, with 28 percent of Māori boys and 39 percent of Māori girls engaging in the habit.

New Plymouth Girls' High School principal Jacqui Brown welcomed the phasing-out of cheap disposable vapes, as she recognized that it would discourage young people from starting to vape.

Yet, a significant number of students rely on vaping and find it difficult to survive without it, so she called for increased support for them.

According to Cambridge Middle School principal Daryl Gibbs, the regulations are a positive start. However, he suggested in the future a total ban, similar to Australia's prescription-only approach.

As a smoking cessation aid, vaping was originally used by teenagers to quit smoking, but has since become a significant problem.

International vaping news

Preliminary Research Suggests Vaping May Heighten Risk of Cavities and Tooth Decay

There is preliminary evidence that vaping may increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Aerosolized e-liquid combined with sweeteners and flavourings in vape pens may create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, potentially causing oral health problems.

In light of widespread e-cigarette use among adolescents, experts express concern about the potential impact on tooth decay.

Recent research suggests that vaping may increase a person's susceptibility to cavities. Aerosolized liquids used in vape pens can leave a sticky, sugary film on teeth, similar to sucking on lollipops before bed. Dr. Karina Irusa, assistant professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, explains that the sugary film created by e-liquid promotes bacterial growth.

While the study, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, is considered preliminary and does not establish a direct causal relationship between vaping and cavities, the findings raise concerns due to the widespread usage of e-cigarettes among adolescents.

It is concerning to researchers specialising in the study of vaping among young people that approximately 2.5 million American teenagers use e-cigarettes, increasing their risk of tooth decay. Cavity-causing bacteria breed more readily in aerosols that include artificial sweeteners and flavourings.

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