Few would have failed to notice the rise and rise of the practice of vaping.
Most shopping precincts now have specialist stores selling the utensils and oils, under such names as Shosha, the Vape Shed and Vapourium. These have sprung up with alacrity after the first imports of the product began disseminating around main New Zealand cities just over five years ago.
While vaping has credible claims to being 95 per cent safer than cigarettes, it still has the option of delivering nicotine to the system; is not harmless; and is habit forming.
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It's little surprise the practice holds some attraction for children, just as cigarette smoking impressed earlier generations. An ASH year 10 survey, which questions 20,000 to 30,000 students every year about smoking, found an increase in the proportion of children experimenting with vaping, from about one in five in 2014 to one in three in 2018. School principals mirrored that finding this week, estimating at least a third of secondary students have tried vaping.
Likely fearing overly restrictive measures from authorities, vape vendors have been keen to be seen as responsibly regulating themselves, voluntarily enforcing 18+ age restrictions on sales. The Vaping Trade Association, which represents businesses in the vape trade, says it has also been asking for official regulations for more than five years.
This week, finally, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced government regulations on vaping will be presented "soon". Given the healthiest option is not to vape or smoke, preventing entry to either practice is crucial - and needed now.