New campaign launched to educate rangatahi on…


A new campaign aiming to educate rangatahi about the effects of vaping has launched today.

Protect Your Breath, developed alongside the Hā Collective, is working to reduce the number of young Māori and Pacific people using vapes.

It comes as the percentage of young people vaping daily tripled between 2019 and 2021. Action for Smokefree 2025 found daily vaping increased from 3.1% in 2019 to 9.6% in 2021.

A survey the Hā Collective carried out in July showed 53% of rangatahi have never vaped, 22% have tried it just once or twice, 6% used to vape regularly but don’t anymore, and 19% currently vape “occasionally” or “regularly” – 10% vaping everyday and 9% less frequently.

Those that vape everyday are most commonly vaping “as soon as I wake up” – 60% – and then “for most of the day, whenever I can” – 58%.

Speaking to Breakfast this morning, teenager Elijah Tiatia from the Hā Collective said it’s a common misconception that vapes are a healthier alternative to cigarettes.

“It’s actually not a healthier alternative, it’s actually doing the same thing that cigarettes does, the difference is that it [vapes] tastes nice and smells nice.”

Tiatia said the most important part of the campaign is young people feeling like they can identify with it.

“When you have someone in power or someone that looks a little bit different to you, you feel like as youth they’re just telling you off and it gives you another reason to rebel.”

He said the moment you put alternative forms of representation in front of society, more young people will start to listen.

Vaping. (Source: TVNZ)

“It will mean a lot more coming from someone around my age and who’s a lot younger, who’s a bit closer to you in understanding where you come from as a youth and all of your stresses.”

The Protect Your Breath website says rangatahi are “media savvy” and quick to ignore content that doesn’t feel like it’s “authentically them”.

“Developed with our Hā Collective of young people, the broader campaign avoids judgement and scare tactics; celebrates the things young people care about, their identities, and their language; and delivers easy to find, easy to share snackable information in the places they already spend their time,” the website explains.

Selah Hart from Hāpai Te Hauora said she agrees it’s important for the initiative to be led by young people like Tiatia, in order to relate to those it’s targeting.

“We’ve got to get the messages right and we’ve got to deliver them in a way that actually is non-threatening.

“So you’ll see in this new campaign launched today that it might not make sense, it might not have that traditional sort of ‘don’t do this or only do that’, it’s a way for us to bridge that conversation,” she told Breakfast.

Hart said they are taking a different health promotion approach which she hopes will embed itself in the social media fabric.

“It will be delivered in different modes where you won’t see a traditional television ad but kids will see it on TikTok.”

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