Vaping has been included in the fourth version of the Waimate District Council’s smokefree policy.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the council adopted the Smokefree and Vapefree Environments Policy 312, which endorses, and is aligned with, the overall objective of the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan.
While vaping was mentioned in the last version in 2019, the policy has been modified to include “enhancement and clarification of the scope of the policy regarding vaping behaviour’’.
The council’s community and strategy group manager Carolyn Johns said vaping was highlighted in the 2022 policy, at the request of councillors “as the practice of vaping is considered to also be detrimental to health’’.
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“One of the primary objectives of the WDC [Waimate District Council] is the continuous enhancement of wellbeing of the district’s residents,” Johns said.
“Council fully endorses the vision of a smokefree New Zealand, and its Smokefree and Vapefree Policy seeks to directly contribute to the realisation of such a goal.”
Smoking and vaping is prohibited at all council-owned and controlled areas, properties, facilities and council organised events but excludes outdoor spaces of its camping grounds.
“The application of the policy directly contributes to the enhancement of, primarily, the social and economic factors of community wellbeing,” a principle in the policy said.
The council’s first smokefree policy was adopted in 2012, followed by 2015 and 2019 renditions, respectively.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said it was encouraged to see initiatives in communities which seek to develop policies that promote health and reduce the harm caused by smoking and vaping.
The Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan, launched in December 2021, sets out the actions the ministry will take over the next four years and beyond to achieve a smokefree-Aotearoa and end the harm caused by smoking.
“Any mahi towards a smokefree-Aotearoa should be celebrated,” the spokesperson said.
Paediatric Respiratory Specialist Associate Professor Philip Pattemore said there is an increasing number of young people vaping.
“An alarming number of high school students are trying or taking up vaping because they’ve heard it’s safe, and they’re curious,” Pattemore said.
“But your lungs are designed to breathe air, not smoke or vape. There is no safety data for e-cigarettes and there is evidence of harm.
“Vaping is a step towards quitting for some, and is safer than smoking, but only in the sense that a small crocodile is safer than a large crocodile.”
Pattemore said recent studies suggest that while most adults vape to try to reduce or give up smoking, most teenagers vape for curiosity, to follow peers, and are enticed by the flavours.
The ASH Year 10 snapshot survey shows from 2019 to 2021 daily vaping among teens has tripled, from 3.1% to 9.6%.
The largest increase is among Māori students – for whom daily vaping increased from 5.9% in 2019 to 19.1% in 2021.
Daily vaping for Pacific students increased from 3.9% to 10.6%, while daily vaping for NZ European students increased from 2.6% to 7.8%.
Asian students still have the lowest daily use at 2.4%. The figures show that vaping rates are on top of the smoking rates, used by many non-smokers, and not simply displacing smoking.
Pattemore said these statistics are concerning.