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New vaping restrictions to reduce risk of addiction in youth


New restrictions aim to address vaping risk in youth (INL image

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, August 22, 2023

New vaping restrictions will come into force on September 21, 2023, including restrictions on the names of flavours and a ban on new specialist vaping shops being a minimum of 300m away from schools and marae, to curb the risk of addiction for youth.

But the proximity ban only applies to specialist stores. It does not apply to diaries or supermarkets that might already be within 300m of a school or marae, though they would be restricted to selling mint, menthol and tobacco flavours, highlighting a potential loophole in the process.

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall announced “Vapes will need child safety mechanisms and names like ‘cotton candy’ and ‘strawberry jelly donut’ will be prohibited. Only generic names which accurately describe the flavours can be used, such as ‘orange’ or ‘berry.’  We have also reduced the maximum concentration of nicotine allowed in vapes in line with the latest evidence.  The maximum concentration of nicotine allowed in single-use vapes is reduced to 20mg/mL The maximum nicotine concentration is set at 28.5mg/mL for reusable vaping products that contain nicotine only in salt form.”

“We have set the maximum nicotine levels to balance the need for sufficient nicotine to be an effective smoking cessation device, while limiting the risk of nicotine addiction, especially for young people, and particularly from cheap single-use vaping products,” she said.

In addition to the recently announced restrictions, all vaping devices sold in New Zealand will need to have removable batteries to make them safer.

While the impact of these regulations will continue to be monitored, nothing is off the table regarding what needs to be done to ensure a reduction in youth vaping numbers while retaining sufficient tools for smoking cessation.

“We are creating a future where tobacco products are no longer addictive, appealing or as readily available, and the same needs to apply to vaping,” the health minister said.

Worrying trend highlighted in numbers

The restrictions come into effect after Ministry of Health data recently detailed how at least one in four New Zealand schools were within one kilometre of a vape store, and at least 77 were within 250 meters.

The report also stated that “Since 2019/20 increases in vaping have exceeded declines in smoking, especially among young people. This suggests that some people who have never smoked are taking up vaping.”

According to the report, In 2021/22, one in 12 people aged 15 or older (8.3%) were daily vapers (346,000 people). This is a large increase since 2019/20 when about one in 30 people (3.5%) were daily vapers (144,000 people). One in 14 young people aged 15–17 (6.9%) were daily vapers. Of these, 76% were never-smokers, 18% were ex-smokers and 6% were current smokers.

Te Whatu Ora Health NZ noted the number of people who had never smoked cigarettes but were addicted to vaping was on the rise. These people were being directed to stop-smoking programmes such as Ready Steady Quit and Quitline.

Vaping causes harm

Vaping has short-term and long-term side effects. Researchers and health professionals don’t know about all the side effects yet. Vaping is harmful to young people as they can become dependent on nicotine. Nicotine is harmful and can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Being addicted to vaping can affect a young person’s relationships and behaviours at school and work.

According to the vaping fact sheet issued by ‘Youth 19’, 38% of students in Northland, Auckland and Waikato regions reported they have tried vaping, 10% vaping regularly and 6% vaping weekly or even more regularly. Regular vaping was more common among boys, and older students, while being more prevalent in both European and Maori students, compared with other ethnicities.

The report also highlighted how vaping appeals more to young people than smoking and nearly half of the students who were vaping had never smoked earlier.

For more details, and to start the conversation about vaping education, please click on the link.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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