Extensive national media coverage on the high school vaping epidemic has prompted an education push warning teens not to get ‘sucked in’ to the fad.
With school principals and researchers highlighting this very real issue across the country, education around vaping is vital. This is why the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) has launched an online campaign, ‘Don’t Get Sucked In’. The website includes information and resources on vaping to encourage teens not to try vaping (or smoking) in the first place, by challenging them to think critically about vaping and how it fits with their goals.
Last year, ARFNZ brought together a group of experts – the ‘Vaping Educational Advisory Group’ (VEAG) – to continually review and advise on the information on the website. The site has been established to sit within the wider body of work conducted by ARFNZ to reduce the appeal of vaping (and smoking) to children and young people, and to promote healthy lungs.
“It’s so important that our rangatahi are educated about vaping and what the real risks are, so that they can make the right choices,” says Letitia Harding, ARFNZ Chief Executive.
“E-cigarettes can be a useful tool for cigarette smokers who have failed to quit using Medsafe and FDA-approved smoking cessation products. However, many teens who have never smoked cigarettes are being ‘sucked in’ by marketing that is attractive to young people, particularly on social media. We don’t want kids who were never smokers, or who are at very low risk of taking up smoking, to become addicted to vaping products. It’s a whole new problem.”
There is a widespread misconception around vaping harm, says the ARFNZ, which it claims largely stems from a 2015 report by Public Health England, where vaping was stated to be “95 per cent safer” than smoking. The evidence used for this claim was weak, and it has been widely refuted, the ARFNZ says.
“The findings from this report were used as a tagline for the vaping industry and repeated in the media for many years,” says Letitia. “Young people have heard this message and have unfortunately adopted the mindset that vaping is safe, or perhaps assumed vaping to be only 5% harmful – we need to send a clear message and let them know that it isn’t.”
For more information and resources on vaping, visit dontgetsuckedin.co.nz