New Zealand Youth19 survey: vaping has wider appeal than smoking in secondary school students, and most use nicotine‐containing e‐cigarettes
Objective: To investigate smoking and vaping in secondary school students (aged 13–18 years) in New Zealand (NZ) following the introduction of ‘pod’ e-cigarettes, which have been associated with the rapid escalation of youth vaping elsewhere.
Methods: Data on smoking and vaping were collected in 2019 as part of a comprehensive youth health survey (N=7,721).
Results: Vaping was 2–3 times more prevalent than smoking, with 10% of students vaping regularly (monthly or more often), and 6% weekly or more often, compared with 4% and 2%, respectively, for tobacco smoking. Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes were sometimes or always used by 80% of regular and 90% of weekly vapers. Regular and weekly smoking was rare in low deprivation (affluent) areas, whereas regular and weekly vaping prevalence was similar across the socioeconomic spectrum. More than 80% of ever-vapers (N=2732) reported they were non-smokers when they first vaped, and 49% of regular vapers (N=718) had never smoked.
Conclusions: A significant proportion of New Zealand adolescents, many of whom have never smoked, use nicotine-containing e-cigarettes regularly.
Implications for public health: Vaping is less harmful than smoking, but it is not harmless. Public health action is needed to support young non-smokers to remain smokefree and vape-free.