The days of smoking ‘behind the bike sheds’ at school has been replaced by vaping according to local college principals.
New Zealand’s Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act was amended to include vaping, and the changes came into force on November 11. Among the changes is the restriction of sale or supply of vaping products to those aged over 18.
However, according to Whangaparaoa College principal James Thomas, young people are having no problems getting hold of vaping devices and products.
“Some parents say that they let their kids vape at home, and sometimes our learners access vaping equipment through older family members,” Mr Thomas says. “Obviously the school reflects what’s going on in the community but we have drawn a line and it’s banned at school, even if it’s ok at home.”
Recently in a notice to parents, Mr Thomas said that there has been an increase in the numbers vaping on site.
He is concerned about the addictive effects. “There are many misconceptions about vaping and its effects – which include nicotine addiction,” Mr Thomas says. “Vape juice flavours such as cotton candy and blue raspberry target young people and the availability of 60mg/mL nicotine juice means that young people are becoming nicotine addicted,” he says. “Just like smoking – at school it’s not acceptable.”
Kingsway College principal Graeme Budler agrees that vaping is on the rise at school. “It is starting to raise its head as an issue at the school, probably because students do not see the health dangers in the same way they see cigarettes,” he says. “It also does not help that the flavours target younger audiences.”
He says Kingsway has classified and treated vaping, similar to smoking. “At this stage, we are putting up signage to signal to visitors, and adding the topic to our health programme,” he says.
Orewa College principal Kate Shevland says smoking has more or less disappeared from the scene with vaping taking its place.
“We see occasional use among students, but it’s not an increasing trend,” she says. “When it happens, we do a standdown or detention usually and then meet with parents.”
She says the change in legislation to include vaping in the definition of smoke free is a good step.
The new legislation also makes the buildings and grounds of all schools and early childhood centres smoke and vape free.
A Wentworth College spokesperson says the school had already banned it, adding the word ‘vaping’ to its smoking, drugs and alcohol policy a year ago.
“We have strong compliance from our students, as a student risks suspension or possible exclusion for breaching our rules,” the spokesperson says. “Vaping has never been an issue at Wentworth.”
The college is putting up new signs to inform members of the public who may use the playgrounds in weekends about the vaping ban.