The Highlands Intermediate school in New Plymouth has so far this year dealt with 17 cases involving students vaping in school. According to the principal Mark Luff, this is a growing problem that the school alone cannot handle.
Worried about the welfare of the students, the principal has appealed to both parents and the community at large to help with keeping the school-going teenagers off vapers. Mr. Luff believes this is a nationwide problem as other schools are also reporting a large number of disciplinary cases related to vaping on school grounds.
Mr. Luff was quoted saying “We know when we talk to colleagues it’s happening all around the country and it’s something we are struggling to control if that makes any sense.”
Mr. Luff says that his school has experienced a growing number of vaping problems over the past three years. This is why vaping while in school was legally banned a year ago. However, the problem has persisted and it is quickly becoming a norm. Teenagers now see vaping as an ok thing to do.
In his appeal to the community for help, Mr. Luff hopes to raise awareness of the issue and help the community change its attitude towards vaping. He believes that kids vaping in school get those vapes from their parents, older siblings, or older friends in the community.
New Zealand’s latest survey shows that the number of teenagers aged 15-17 years using vaping products has tripled in the past three years. According to public health professor at Octagon University, Janet Hoek, even 11- and 12-year-old kids are getting access to vaping products. This is because these products are sold in dairies and thus, they are quite visible.
She says the products have “got highly attractive packaging, they’ve got intriguing names for the e-liquids” thus it is not surprising they attract the attention of young children.
She believes that while vaping products are great at helping people quit smoking, they should not be on convenience store shelves. This makes them easily available to the wrong groups such as teenagers who have never smoked.
This does a disservice to smokers who need those products to quit smoking. This need to change as it is likely to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Many people we spoke to in New Plymouth agree with her. The ease of access to vaping products is creating a new problem that needs to be addressed. They say that vaping products should not be made easily available to kids. This will ruin their good reputation and make them bad for the whole community.