New Zealand: Youth19 Survey Says Teen Vaping is a National Problem

A larger and more recent study found that only 0.8% of teen daily vapers had never smoked before.

Published last month in the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, the Youth19 vaping survey aimed to reveal how vaping is affecting children and young people. The findings indicated that 80% of the minors who have ever vaped and almost 50% of the regular vapers, had never smoked a cigarette before they started vaping.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation (ARFNZ) has been speaking out on the rise in teen vaping since 2017,” says ARFNZ Chief Executive Letitia Harding. “The Youth19 research offers yet more evidence that this is a problem. While vapes can be a helpful tool for smokers trying to quit when combined with behavioural support, many children and young people are picking up a vape having never smoked a cigarette. Vapes are not without harm, and can be highly addictive. Many studies are now available that show the negative impact of nicotine on adolescent brain development.”

A more reliable study indicated otherwise

Meanwhile it is important to highlight, that while this 2019 survey involved 7,721 participants, a larger study consisting of 27,083,  students released in 2020, yielded different results. The larger and more recent study found that only 0.8% of the participants were daily vapers had never smoked before. Moreover, only 3.1% of the respondents said they vaped daily, while 37.3% said they had tried.

Looking at data an annual ASH (Action for Smokefree 2025) surveyor students aged 14 and 15, last year Kiwi researchers found that not only are smoking rates on the decline amongst local teenagers, but additionally, vaping is not being taken up by non-smoking teens.

To this effect, concluded the researchers, there is no evidence of a teen vaping epidemic in New Zealand. “Our findings do not support the notion of a so-called vaping epidemic in New Zealand or a large youth population dependent on vaping – a finding consistent with the scarce international evidence.”

Commenting about these findings, spokesperson for VTANZ Ben Pryor, pointed out that these findings confirm that vaping remains mostly common amongst former smokers. “The survey confirms youth vaping rates remain very low and that vaping remains largely confined to smokers. In fact, of the few students who do vape, three out of four were smokers. What’s more, while experimentation may be up, with over a third trying vaping, very very few carry it on,” he said.

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