Study finds many vape stores near schools in poorest areas

Nineteen retailers in Queenstown, Wanaka, Hawea and Cromwell were targeted in the HNZ Southern...
A new study has found almost a third of all the vape stores in the country are within a five-minute walk of a school.

Published in Social Science & Medicine, the study by the University of Canterbury (UC) found there were more vape stores in lower socio-economic areas and in close proximity to schools.

It revealed almost 30 percent of vape stores were within 400 metres of a school, and 71 percent were within 800 metres. 

The lead author, University of Canterbury (UC) public health expert Dr Matt Hobbs, said researchers were surprised by the "sheer difference" between the most and least deprived areas.

"There are around seven times more vape stores in the most socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods.

"We found 22 schools in the least deprived decile had a vape store within one kilometre. That's compared with 172 schools in the most deprived area of the country," Hobbs said.

UC said various sources - including the Specialist Vape Retailer register, the New Zealand Deprivation index, and census data - were combined to pinpoint vape store locations and to explore the connection with deprivation and youth vaping.  

Researchers have created an interactive map which allows people to zoom into their school or neighbourhood and see how many vape stores there are in the vicinity.

New regulations aimed at limiting youth vaping were announced last year, including no new specialist vape shops within 300 metres of schools and marae.  

Describing the study's findings as "just one piece of a big jigsaw", Hobbs said there was much more research yet to be done.

"What we hope to do next is explore the link between exposure to vape products and the outcome of young people actually vaping."