Hastings parents rallying against vape shops near schools

Parents in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay are set to rally tomorrow against vape stores in the area.

In September, a law change banned specialised vape stores opening near schools, but it doesn’t apply to existing stores.

Concerned parents, who are part of Vape-Free Kids NZ, are meeting in the Hastings town centre tomorrow, calling for change.

Speaking to Breakfast this morning, organiser and local dad Sukhdeep Singh said a vape store opened right next door to his son’s school last year.

“I was quite sad and very disappointed so we went to the shop owners and requested them to relocate. That didn’t happen, and so we protested there but nothing happened.”

Singh said his biggest concern was why the government was allowing these stores to open right next to schools.

He said the government needed to have more of a “social and moral responsibility”.

“When I walk in the main streets, it’s so sad to see our young kids smoking, it’s just become in fashion among young kids, the youngest I’ve seen is about 10-years-old and you can just see that they think it’s cool.”

He said his biggest worry is students going to the dairy after school to buy lollies or an ice-cream and being exposed to so many different vape products.

In a statement to Breakfast, associate Health Minister Casey Costello said: “I think this group will find this government will address their concerns.

“Our policy is to have stronger penalties enforcement of vaping, sales to minors tightened, regulations for vaping products, and to ban disposable vapes.”

Last December, a survey revealed that the number of year 10 students who vape regularly had “significantly” decreased.

The survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), showed the number of year 10s picking up the habit has dropped by almost 2% from 18.2% in 2022 to 16.4% in 2023.

It also revealed youth daily vaping rates plateaued at 10%, with the number who have tried vaping dropping from 40.1% in 2022, to 37.5% in 2023.

ASH called the results “encouraging” but said New Zealand still needs to do better.

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