Waihoro Spreydon-Cashmere Community Board member Callum Ward was told by a local primary school principal that she has a ‘desk drawer full of vapes’ confiscated from her pupils.
While vaping can be helpful to smokers trying to quit, Ward said many young people go straight to vaping.
"The problem is the young people that are vaping, we wouldn’t see them smoking," Ward said.
"So what we are seeing is a new trend that reverses the progress we’ve made on reducing nicotine addiction among young people," he said.
The community board recently had a briefing with Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury, formerly the Canterbury District Health Board, on vaping restrictions.
The meeting was prompted after board members were approached by residents concerned about the increase in vaping shops.
There are 17 stores offering vapes within 1km of Addington Primary School and 13 around Christchurch South Intermediate, Ward said.
Ward was disappointed the community board has few legal options for regulating vaping.
The current Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 does not provide local councils the ability to restrict density or locations of stores selling vaping products.
Said Christchurch City Council head of strategic policy and resilience David Griffiths: “The council is actively lobbying for the Government to consider tighter regulations for the sale of vaping products.”
City council staff also supported the remit proposed by the Kaipara District Council in the Far North.
The remit, which was passed by Local Government New Zealand at the end of July, called on the Government to limit the retail of vapes to R18 specialist stores and include proximity limits to prevent the clustering of such stores.
LGNZ will lodge a request with the Government for tighter legislation once there are enough councils supporting the remit.
Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association president Sandy Hastings, who is also principal of Beckenham Te Kura o Pūroto primary school, was not surprised to hear about pupils caught vaping.
"Many of our students across our schools have experimented with tobacco and vaping,” she said.
The association has 205 schools as members, including schools that offer a combination of primary, intermediate and secondary education.
"They've got easy access to these products through their siblings, through peers, and in some cases from home," Hastings said.
She said vaping is a growing issue, stating it often occurred among older students, particularly years 7 and 8.
Last month, the association made a submission to the Smokefree Environment and Regulated Product (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill.
“We support all measures to reduce the harm from smoking tobacco and tobacco addiction,” Hastings said.