The NSW government is committed to involving schools in the fight against vaping in children, acknowledging the important place for GPs as the first port of call for cessation help.
Last week the NSW government held a roundtable with education stakeholders to explore vaping solutions for young people, highlighting the important role of primary care in interventions.
The roundtable included representation from Cancer Council NSW, NSW Health, the Advocate for Children and Young People, students, school principals and other school representatives.
According to new data, presented by University of Sydney Associate Professor Becky Freeman on behalf of Generation Vape and Cancer Council NSW, 90% of young people found it easy to access vapes and a third of adolescents aged 14 to 17 have used an e-cigarette or vaped.
“Vaping among young people is a community-wide issue that is only increasing in its negative impact,” said the Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car at the roundtable.
An “evidenced-based approach is needed to tackle this problem,” said Ms Car, adding that this complex issue will require community engagement.
According to NSW Minister for Health Ryan Park, in an “intermediate” attempt to “get in front of this growing public health crisis” the NSW government had “ramped up compliance capacity, while boosting cessation support for young people”.
NSW Health has developed a vaping toolkit and campaign to help parents, schools and community services encourage young people to quit vaping and increase awareness.
Echoing recent research, NSW CHO Dr Kerry Chant said she saw GPs as having a “key role” in tackling vaping among youngsters and encouraged parents and young people to speak to their GP as the first port of call.
“We know that the RACGP is updating its guidance on how to approach the circumstances of vape addiction, and what would be the appropriate models,” said Dr Chant.
Additional government funding has been provided to update Quitline – the NSW’s government confidential telephone counselling platform for smoking cessation – to be more geared towards young people, as there has been limited engagement from this group to date, she said.
“We are attacking this at both ends,” added Mr Park.
“We’ve allocated $6.8 million [to tackle vaping], $4.5 million of that is going to enforcement, $2.3 million of that is going to promotion, education and awareness campaigns.
“[Vaping] is by far and away one of the biggest public health issues our young people face in our community.
“We’ve got a responsibility to work across government across jurisdictions and across silos for the sake of their young people.”
According to a media release from the NSW government, as well as guides and education for teachers and parents to help students quit vaping, they are also proposing updates to school curriculums to address the dangers of vaping, creating online support platforms for children and improving the pathways for referring students in schools to appropriate services for help with smoking cessation.