Schools can support students by making the law clear, the facts known, and the decision theirs. Young people must be empowered to make informed decisions, by understanding that vaping is not harmless and is not for under 18s.
GIVE THE LEGAL FACTS
Reinforce the law to students that it is illegal to sell or give a vaping product to someone under 18, and that it is prohibited to vape on school property or grounds 24/7.
Ensure the students are aware of your school’s policy, rules and procedures regarding smoking, vaping and other prohibited substances.
GIVE THE HEALTH FACTS
In New Zealand vaping is only recommended as a way to quit smoking, and is not for young people. Vaping is not harmless. Educate students on vaping just as you would with other programmes that focus on reducing harm from the use tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
Discuss how what we don’t know, is as important as what we do. Vaping contains unregulated chemicals and flavours whose long-term effects are unknown. Breathing in anything can have side effects. Learn the side-effects of vaping.
Discuss how vaping contains nicotine which can have some negative effects on brain development in adolescents. Nicotine is highly addictive which, although it helps to quit smoking as it replaces the nicotine with less of the toxins in cigarette smoke; it is not harmless if you don’t smoke. Learn about nicotine and vaping.
HELP THEM USE THE FACTS
Conversations that empower students to come to their own conclusions help students feel respected and in control. Research together, ask questions and listen to their answers.
Tūturu is a whole-of-school approach to student wellbeing that prepares students for a world where alcohol and other drugs exist. It is evidence-based, and uses approaches that improve wellbeing, develop critical thinking, and reduce harms from alcohol and other drugs. Learn more about Tūturu at www.tuturu.org.nz.
USE REPUTABLE RESOURCES
Use the teaching and learning activities from Staying Smokefree to promote self-reliance, understanding and dealing with peer pressure and addiction. Swap out ‘tobacco’ and ‘cigarettes’ for ‘vaping’, where appropriate.
Use these teaching resources and activities for vaping education at junior and senior secondary school levels.
Support to quit
Provide support for students who are wanting to quit vaping, or vaping to quit smoking. The best idea is for the individual student to get advice from a health professional, such as a doctor or public health nurse.
VAPING AND YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY
While vaping is an R18 product, the reality is more young people are trying vaping.
Results from the New Zealand 2019 ASH Year 10 Snapshot survey showed that 3% of students were daily vapers and 12% of students were current vapers (vaped at least monthly).
Daily use of e-cigarettes/vapes among young people is rare and is largely confined to those who have smoked.
Although young people are experimenting with vaping, smoking rates among young people are continuing to drop in New Zealand. It is not possible to say from the current evidence that vaping is associated with initiation of smoking and normalisation of smoking behaviour.