NSW schools have been put on notice, as the state government moves to crack down on vaping in schools as a “top order priority”.
On Saturday, Education and Early Learning Minister Prue Car announced both health and education departments will initiate a community campaign on the dangers of vaping, and convene an expert roundtable in order to tackle the issue.
Ms Car said the campaign would focus on the “very dangerous” ingredients in vapes, and said she feared children weren’t aware of the potential dangers associated with their use.
“We want to support schools with disciplinary methods to deal with our children who are vaping in schools,” she said.
“We need to make sure that we’re giving that information to children in a way they can consume because we’re seeing children in primary schools, and obviously in high schools (vape) because they don’t really know the dangers.”
“They smell like fruit, many of them and they look like little highlighters, but they are dangerous.”
The roundtable will focus on coming up with strategies to reduce the amount of children vaping, and investigate strategies to support schools in managing the issue/
For schools where vaping is a “particular problem,” consultation is currently underway to install vape detectors, however Mr Car stressed increasing nicotine usage in children and teenagers was a challenge reported across the state.
She also encouraged schools to report incidents of vaping, so the government was aware of the degree of the problem.
“This is a problem that’s affecting schools everywhere,” she said.
“It’s not just public schools, it’s Catholic, (and) independent schools. Schools across all the sectors are reporting to me, that they’re facing a challenge with this.”
The federal government have also announced intentions to curb the import of non-prescription vapes into Australia, and work with states and territories to ban all single-use, disposable vapes.
Minimum quality standards for vapes including restrictions on flavours, colours, and pharmaceutical packaging requirements will also be actioned.
In May, Health Minister Mark Butler said nicotine vapes had created a new generation of people who were nicotine dependent.
“Vaping was sold to governments and communities around the world as a therapeutic product to help long-term smokers quit,” he said.
“It was not sold as a recreational product – especially not one targeted to our kids but that is what it has become.”