Vaping Roundtable first step in combating growing issue

School leaders and health experts have convened for a roundtable on vaping.

Adults talking to some students. Adults talking to some students.
Image: Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car, NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar and the NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant speak with students at the Vaping Roundtable.

School leaders and health experts convened today for the NSW Government’s roundtable on the growing issue of vaping in NSW schools.

Delivering an election commitment to host the panel and discuss solutions, the Vaping Roundtable heard first-hand accounts from students, teachers, principals and evidence from health experts and researchers, about vaping behaviour and how it is affecting young people.

The roundtable also heard about the impact vaping is having on schools, and the role the wider community plays in supporting young people.

Vaping is harmful, especially for non-smokers and young people, with direct health risks including nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning, burns and injuries from devices exploding, and lung damage, according to a comprehensive systematic review from the Australian National University.

New data shows one third of children aged 14 to 17 have vaped or used an e-cigarette, and nine out of ten young people found it easy to access vapes, according to University of Sydney Associate Professor Becky Freeman, who presented to the roundtable on behalf Generation Vape and Cancer Council NSW.

Representatives from NSW Health, Cancer Council NSW, the Advocate for Children and Young People as well as students and primary and high school principals addressed the panel, with members of the public, independent and Catholic school sectors also represented.

Vaping is a complex, community-wide issue which is having an acute impact on school-aged children. Where there are opportunities for the NSW Government to help, we are determined to have a positive impact.

The NSW Government thanks all the contributors, and will now consider all it heard, including solutions that can be implemented in education settings.

As we chart a path forward, a number of actions have been proposed, including creating a vaping guide to assist teachers and help students trying to quit, updating the curriculum so it better addresses the dangers of vaping, creating an online support platform for students, and building better referral pathways between schools and community services.

This is part of other reforms introduced by the NSW Government to protect children from the harms of illegal vapes, including $6.8 million invested over three years to crack down on the sale of illegal vapes and to increase support for young people who are addicted to vaping.

The NSW Government’s work will complement other measures introduced by the Australian Government, which includes the commitment to restrict the sale of vaping products.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car:

“Today we heard from students, teachers, principals and health experts about the significant concern vaping is causing across the NSW schooling community.

“Vaping among young people is a community-wide issue that is only increasing in its negative impact.

“It is clear from what we heard today than an evidenced-based approach is needed to tackle this problem.

“This is a complex issue and we need to work together as a community to tackle this serious problem.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Ryan Park said:

“Vapes can have harmful impacts, especially on young people’s growing brains and bodies and we will continue to crack down on retailers who illegally sell nicotine vapes.

“Ask any parent, and they will tell you that these products are pervasive. We are determined to get in front of this growing public health crisis.

“In the intermediate term, we have ramped up our compliance capacity, while boosting our cessation support for young people. But where we can improve our efforts moving forward, we will, and this Roundtable is critical to bringing together the leading expert advice in tackling the prevalence of vaping.”

Quotes attributable to Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer:

“NSW Health is increasingly concerned about the harmful health effects of vaping, particularly for young people.

“Vapes can cause harm to the health and development of young people, including changes to brain development, impaired learning and memory, and may worsen stress, depression and anxiety.

“NSW Health is committed to increasing support to help young people quit vaping. We have developed the ‘Do you know what you’re vaping?’ campaign and Vaping toolkit to increase awareness among young people and provide parents, schools, and health and community services with strategies to protect young people from the harms of vapes.

“NSW Health has also released a new guide to support health professionals and others who work with young people to assist young people to quit vaping.”

Adults talking with students. Adults talking with students.
Image: NSW Health Minister Ryan Park and the NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant speak with students at the Vaping Roundtable.
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