National Maori Public Health organisation Hāpai Te Hauora stands in support of VapefreeKids NZ who are calling for a stronger approach to protect rangatahi from harmful vaping addiction. They are presenting their Petition today on the steps of parliament.
Interim CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora, Jason Alexander says ‘"as we work towards a Smokefree goal, our tamariki and rangatahi must be protected through the laws we make. Whānau, parents, and school communities are telling us that they feel helpless and frustrated as we see the frenzy of vape retailers setting up business within our communities. Some rushing to set up within close proximity to our schools before new regulations kick in, restricting this."
The petition has been signed by over 12,000 across the motu calling for a ban on the sale of vaping products in non-vape store premises such as dairies, supermarkets, and service stations; and calls on the government to improve regulations on Specialist Vape Retailers.
Marnie Wilton, co-founder of VapefreekidsNZ says this petition aims to address the unacceptable increase in young people becoming addicted to vapes, negatively affecting their mental, physical and social well-being. By restricting the sale of vapes to specialist stores, access to these products will be limited and the health of young people will be protected. "There is still the potential for unknown long-term health risks associated with vaping," says Wilton.
The petition comes amid growing concerns from many parents, across public health sector, schools and principals, about the impact of vaping on rangatahi, particularly rangatahi Māori and Pacific.
Hāpai Te Hauora's Alexander says "Vaping has been a useful tool to support many of our whānau to quit smoking tobacco, however, it it is becoming a growing health issue in Aotearoa, with some rangatahi and even tamariki taking up vaping without fully understanding the risks involved."
Tobacco Control Advocacy Service Lead for Hāpai Te Hauora, Leitu Tufuga says, "Limiting the sale of vaping products to Specialist Vape Retailers will help to reduce the visibility of vape products from our tamariki and rangatahi, and help to protect them from highly addictive substance. We strongly support the call for further restrictions on the sale of vaping products."
Hāpai Te Hauora is committed to promoting Māori health and well-being and reducing the impacts of harmful commodities in our communities across Aotearoa. The national campaign Protect Your Breath designed by rangatahi for rangatahi provides kōrero from rangatahi and key information on the impact of vaping.
The petition to restrict vaping will be delivered to the steps of Parliament on the 16th of August, at 1:00 pm, received by MP Tracey McLennan the Chairperson of the Health select committee.