Trial shows action needed to combat rising vaping rates in schools - Education Matters Magazine
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Trial shows action needed to combat rising vaping rates in schools

Unprecedented concerns around rising vaping rates in schools highlight the need for immediate action, a recent trial has shown.

A research trial of a program aiming to reduce the number of students vaping and smoking, developed and delivered by the University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre, proved hugely popular and was taken up by 250 high schools across Australia.

The popularity of the ‘OurFutures’ Vaping program is indicative of the huge concerns of teachers and school communities about the rising popularity and dangers of vaping.

Teachers and school communities’ concerns are matched by federal government action, with world leading legislation to protect children, young people and all Australians from the harms of vaping currently before the parliament.

Data shows one in six high school students have vaped recently. Vapes have become the number one behavioural issue in many schools and studies have shown that nine out of 10 vape shops are within walking distance of schools.

The federal government’s legislation regulates vaping as a therapeutic good, by banning the importation, manufacture, supply, and commercial possession of disposable single use and non-therapeutic vapes.

Should the legislation pass later this year, anyone who is in genuine need will be able to purchase a regulated vape from a pharmacist, with a prescription.

Minister for Education Mr Jason Clare said vaping is a major public health issue and major issue in the nation’s schools.

“Principals and teachers will tell you that vapes are causing massive behaviour problems in the classroom. Nine out of 10 vapes stores are within walking distance of our schools. This is an industry that is clearly targeting our kids,” he said.

“That’s why banning the sale of these things from corner stores is so important. It’s also why resources like the OurFutures vaping program are important – equipping teachers with the tools they need to help to educate young people about the dangers of vaping.”

Associate Professor Emily Stockings, University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre, said: “We are seeing young people addicted to nicotine at rates we’ve not seen for decades. Preventing nicotine dependence before it develops is the best approach, because it impacts brain development and is incredibly difficult to quit.”

“Programs like OurFutures are not only backed by rigorously tested evidence, but are developed in partnership with young people, parents, teachers, and educators, and give young people a say in their own health decisions.

“Research from Professor Newton, Dr Gardner and myself at the Matilda Centre has shown that engaging Australia’s youth by co-designing reliable, evidence-based resources that they trust breaks through misinformation and gives our youth the tools for a healthier future.

“It is encouraging that Governments on all levels are serious about combatting vaping harms in young people and we look forward to furthering research into school-based and social-media based interventions in two new MRFF and NHMRC-funded trials.”

The Matilda Centre ‘OurFutures’ Vaping program is the first rigorously developed online vaping prevention program currently under evaluation. More than eight in 10 students and teachers have rated the program highly, with more than eight in 10 students saying it would help them in future.

More reading: Aussie students co-design new vaping education module

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