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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

This week, there has been extensive media coverage talking about the vaping epidemic in high schools across the country. Both school principals and researchers have warned that this is a very real issue. 
Education around vaping is vital, and the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) provide this with their website ‘Don’t Get Sucked In’. The website includes information and resources on vaping to encourage teens not to try vaping (or smoking) in the first place, by challenging them to think critically about vaping and how it fits with their goals. 
Last year, ARFNZ brought together a group of experts – the ‘Vaping Educational Advisory Group’ (VEAG) – to continually review and advise on the information on the website. 
The site sits within the wider body of work conducted by ARFNZ to reduce the appeal of vaping (and smoking) to children and young people, and to promote healthy lungs. 
“It’s so important that our rangatahi are educated about vaping and what the real risks are, so that they can make the right choices,” says Letitia Harding, ARFNZ Chief Executive. “E-cigarettes can be a useful tool for cigarette smokers who have failed to quit using Medsafe and FDA-approved smoking cessation products. However, many teens who have never smoked cigarettes are being ‘sucked in’ by marketing that is attractive to young people, particularly on social media. We don’t want kids who were never smokers, or who are at very low risk of taking up smoking, to become addicted to vaping products. It’s a whole new problem.” 
There is a widespread misconception around vaping harm, largely stemming from a 2015 report by Public Health England, where vaping was stated to be “95 per cent safer” than smoking. The evidence used for this claim was weak, and it has been widely refuted. 
“The findings from this report were used as a tag-line for the vaping industry and repeated in the media for many years,” says Letitia. “Young people have heard this message and have unfortunately adopted the mindset that vaping is safe, or perhaps assumed vaping to be only 5% harmful – we need to send a clear message and let them know that it isn’t.”