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More than one out of five [22 per cent] Canterbury primary and intermediate school staff have reported pupils vaping as an issue.
Life Education Trust Canterbury, which supports the health and well-being of children, held a meeting with teachers from schools across Canterbury to discuss vaping issues on Monday.
The legal age for buying a vape is 18.
Staff from Casebrook Intermediate School were at the meeting and its assistant principal Will Stribling said pupils vaping at the school has been an issue.
“We haven’t had massive issues with cigarettes ever, but certainly, in the last year or two, vaping has become an issue more prevalent than cigarettes have been in the last 10 [or] 15 years since I’ve been teaching.”
Stribling said about 500 pupils go to the school and only about “three or four” pupils have been caught with vapes in the last year.
However, Stribling said: “The problem is the student will bring it [a vape] in or be at the park after school and four [other pupils] might try it.”
Pupils who have been found with vapes have had their parents called into school to confiscate their vapes, and been informed of the dangers of vaping.
Casebrook is not the only Christchurch school where vaping is a concern.
Life Education Trust Canterbury educator Siobhan Cummings said: “Right across the board, we’ve seen it in pretty much most of the schools we’ve worked in. Teachers have been noticing or been concerned about it with year 7 and 8 pupils, probably not so much with the younger levels.
“Kids are bringing this impression in that it [vaping] is safe, it’s okay, and so, therefore, they think, well, I’ll give it a go, without realising the negative sides of it.
“It’s spread quite quickly within the last year or so.”
Respiratory specialist Dr Stuart Jones said: “Unfortunately, these products are designed to be appealing to young people, with attractive flavourings and colourful packaging. Young people need to be informed of the long-term health effects on the body.”
The owner of Christchurch vape store, Vapeology, Tim Maude said it has strict ID checking policies before people can buy vapes and the youngest person he has seen try and buy one was about 15.
He said it is hard to say how intermediate and primary school pupils are getting access to vapes, but other businesses that sell them, may not be as strict on the rules as his.
The manager of Shosha vape store on Colombo St, who did not want to be named, said no one who looks under 18, without ID, is allowed in his store, even if they are with a parent.