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Number of young non-smokers who are now vaping

Michael Vaughan made this Official Information request to Ministry of Health

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From: Michael Vaughan

Dear Ministry of Health,
1) Please can you tell me how many non-smoking teenagers in New Zealand have taken up vaping? What are the numbers in the 20-30 age range?
2) How many young people in these age brackets were previously smoking and have switched to vaping?
3) What advice did the Ministry of Health draw upon when deciding to allow vaping products to become widely available in New Zealand? What were the main reasons for deciding to go ahead?
4) What are the current requirements for Vaping companies to specify the ingredients of the Vape products they sell?
5) What ingredients in Vape products is the Ministry of Health aware of, and what research has been done on the health effects of these ingredients?
6) From the research considered by the Ministry of Health, what does the Ministry consider to be the main health effects of Vaping and how serious does the Ministry consider these health effects to be?
7) What plans does the Ministry of Health have to educate the public (particularly young people) about the health effects of Vaping?
8) What plans does the Ministry of Health have to require Vaping companies to display health warnings on their products?
9) Considering the numbers of people who have quit cigarettes for Vaping, compared to the numbers of non-smokers who have taken up Vaping, does the Ministry of Health consider that Vaping products are, on balance, making a positive contribution to the health of New Zealanders?

Yours faithfully,

Michael Vaughan

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Kia ora

Thank you for your correspondence received on 21 July 2020. You asked:

"1) Please can you tell me how many non-smoking teenagers in New Zealand
have taken up vaping? What are the numbers in the 20-30 age range?
2) How many young people in these age brackets were previously smoking and
have switched to vaping?
3) What advice did the Ministry of Health draw upon when deciding to allow
vaping products to become widely available in New Zealand? What were the
main reasons for deciding to go ahead?
4) What are the current requirements for Vaping companies to specify the
ingredients of the Vape products they sell?
5) What ingredients in Vape products is the Ministry of Health aware of,
and what research has been done on the health effects of these
ingredients?
6) From the research considered by the Ministry of Health, what does the
Ministry consider to be the main health effects of Vaping and how serious
does the Ministry consider these health effects to be?
7) What plans does the Ministry of Health have to educate the public
(particularly young people) about the health effects of Vaping?
8) What plans does the Ministry of Health have to require Vaping companies
to display health warnings on their products?
9) Considering the numbers of people who have quit cigarettes for Vaping,
compared to the numbers of non-smokers who have taken up Vaping, does the
Ministry of Health consider that Vaping products are, on balance, making a
positive contribution to the health of New Zealanders?"

Note that the Ministry will be treating questions 1 - 5 as a request for
official information.

The Ministry's reference number for these parts of your request is:
H202005390.

As required under the Official Information Act 1982, the Ministry will
endeavour to respond to your request no later than 18 August 2020, being
20 working days after the day your request was received.  

If we are unable to respond to your request within this time frame, we
will notify you of an extension of that time frame.

The Ministry will send separate correspondence to you directly regarding
questions 6 - 9.

If you have any queries related to this request, please do not hesitate to
get in touch.

Ngā mihi

OIA Services
Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [email address]

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Good morning

Please find attached our response to your recent request for information.

Kind regards

OIA Services
Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [email address]

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Hello again

Sorry I didn't attach the information requested  to the previous email.
Please find below..

Kind regards

OIA Services
Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [email address]

From:        OIA Requests/MOH
To:        [FOI #13364 email],
Cc:        OIA Requests/MOH@MOH
Date:        20/08/2020 11:37 a.m.
Subject:        Response to your request for official information (ref:
H202005390)
Sent by:        Nick Allan

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Dear Mr Vaughan

Please find attached a response to questions six to nine from your email
of 21 July 2020.

Kind regards

Ministerial Correspondence
[email address]  

Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
[1]www.health.govt.nz

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From: Michael Vaughan

Dear Ministry of Health (fao Deborah Woodley),

Thank you for your letter.

Before vaping products arrived in New Zealand, I believe we had reached a point in New Zealand at which smoking had lost the 'cool factor' among young people. I don't have figures, but I am confident that the numbers of young people smoking in New Zealand was much-reduced compared to 5 or 10 years ago. Less lungs were being damaged by unnatural, toxic substances being inhaled.

I understand that Vaping products were allowed to become widely-available in N.Z. to assist people who genuinely wanted to stop or reduce cigarette smoking. But the massive downside is that inhaling unnatural and harmful substances has become very trendy again among young people, in the form of Vaping. Preferable to cigarette smoking yes - but still harmful as you acknowledge.

I have two sons, aged 21 and 17. Both were non-smokers before taking up Vaping when it became trendy, shortly after Vape products arrived in NZ. Both started with the non-nicotine products and both 'graduated' to the nicotine Vapes. Both have extensive friend groups who have gone down a similar pathway.

In your letter, you state that current evidence indicates that the prevalence of daily vapers who are not smokers is relatively small. I seriously doubt that this is true. Almost none of my two sons' friend groups were cigarette smokers - they simply took up Vaping because it has become trendy....and moved from non-nicotine to nicotine Vape products. So we are creating a whole new body of nicotine addiction among young people in New Zealand. Well done, Ministry of Health. I have had to take both my sons to our G.P. to help them kick this new addiction.

Please can you inform me of the evidence upon which your statement is based. If numbers are not available, I strongly suggest that this is something that should be investigated immediately by the Ministry of Health.

This large-scale uptake of vaping by young people could have been avoided while still making the Vape products available to the appropriate group of people, i.e. smokers wanting to quit smoking. Quite simply, the products could have been made available to the these individuals through G.P.'s.

I'm not sure how frequently you walk around the areas of Auckland, Wellington etc where there are bars and restaurants frequented by young people. But I suggest that you do so with your M.O.H. colleagues and witness at first-hand the numbers of young people inhaling these damaging Vape products into their lungs.

As you can tell, I'm really disgusted that this situation has been allowed to occur. The Ministry of Health has a responsibility to protect the health of New Zealanders and this situation could so easily have been prevented, whilst still enabling smokers to access the products for the right reasons in a suitably-controlled manner.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Vaughan

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Santina Lee left an annotation ()

The ASH Year 10 Snapshot surveys 20,000-30,000 students every year on their smoking behaviour and attitudes – one of the largest youth smoking surveys in the world. It is a census style survey – all New Zealand public and private schools with Year 10 students are invited to participate each year. The Snapshot began in 1992 and has been running annually since 1999. It is funded by the Ministry of Health as part of the New Zealand Youth Tobacco Monitor.

You can find factsheets from the ASH Year 10 Snapshot for the last few years. If you are interested in using the data for research or study, or would like data prior to the years published here, please contact ashnz@ash.org.nz

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/as...

https://www.ash.org.nz/ash_year_10

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Dear Mr Vaughan

Please find attached a response to your email of 21 August 2020 to the
Ministry.

Kind regards

Ministerial Correspondence
[email address]  

Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
[1]www.health.govt.nz

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