Students’ e-cigarette use increases after legalisation
Students are vaping more since nicotine-containing e-cigarettes became legal in New Zealand in 2018, a research team led by University of Canterbury Health Sciences Adjunct Fellow Dr Ben Wamamili has found.
Caption: Dr Ben Wamalili researches the prevalence of vaping amongst young people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Dr Wamamili’s team found that 13.5% of students were vaping in 2019 compared to 6.8% before it was legal. Slightly more students were smoking regular cigarettes in 2019 (12.1%) than in 2018 (10.6%).
The results were unexpected.
“Yes, we were surprised by a significant increase in students who vaped in 2019 without a corresponding decrease in students who smoked cigarettes,” Dr Wamamili says. “This suggests that students are not necessarily turning to vaping as a way to give up cigarette smoking.”
Another startling find was that more students seem to be vaping – illegally – in smoke-free spaces. “The apparent increase in students vaping in smoke-free spaces is of great concern. If vaping in smoke-free spaces became widespread and led to increased tobacco smoking in these spaces, this would be a source of considerable harm to public health.”