In 2018 it became legal to sell vapes with nicotine in them in New Zealand. New research has been released that looks at the impact.

About 2000 university students were asked about their vaping and smoking habits before and after the sale of nicotine for e-cigarettes became legal. 

Released in the New Zealand Medical Journal last week, the research looked at whether the introduction of e-cigarettes containing nicotine in March 2018 impacted cigarette smoking patterns among tertiary students. Prior to this, vape products with nicotine could only be imported in small amounts for personal use. 

To do this, two surveys across New Zealand’s eight universities were carried out - the first just before e-cigarettes with nicotine went on sale legally, and the second about 12 months later. 

It found vaping rates doubled, from 6.8 percent to 13.5 percent.

There was no accompanying decrease in the prevalence of cigarette smoking. 

A breakdown of the results showed in the first survey, 10.6 percent of students said they currently smoked, compared to 12.1 percent in the second one. When it came to e-cigarettes, 6.8 percent of students identified as current vapers in the first survey, compared to 13.5 percent in the second. And of those who did vape, 78.5 percent said they were using e-nicotine products before they were on the market legally, compared to 83.8 percent in March 2019. 

Students were also asked why they vaped - with the majority saying in both surveys they were curious or just wanted to try it. The next most common reason was “enjoyment”. When it came to wanting to quit smoking, only 6.2 percent identified this as a reason for vaping in the first survey, compared to 5.7 percent in the second one. 

The research, led by Ben Wamamili from the University of Canterbury’s School of Health Sciences, also highlighted the rapid growth of New Zealand’s vaping industry. 

“The results suggest a significant increase in the prevalence of vaping between March 2018 and March 2019, a period that was characterised by rapid growth in the vaping industry - products and retails outlets - in New Zealand.”

It also recommended further investigation into vaping trends, particularly in smoke-free spaces. 

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