New school program aims to curb vaping

Leading health education charity Life Ed Queensland is rolling out a new vaping education program this year for primary students as part of a nationwide early intervention strategy to help schools tackle the growing vaping problem.

The new vaping education program, called Take a Breath – your voice, your choice, is aimed at students in years 5 and 6 before they make the transition to high school.

Vaping (and smoking) is banned at all state schools in Queensland, and within five metres of campuses, yet studies show that vaping is not only widespread in secondary schools it is becoming increasingly common in primary schools. It has been reported that children as young as eight have used e-cigarettes.

In the wake of such information a state government inquiry has warned of a new generation of nicotine-addicted adults unless urgent steps are taken to curb demand and the availability of vapes.

Life Ed Queensland CEO Michael Fawsitt, who addressed the government vaping inquiry, said increasing use of vapes among young people highlights the urgent need for early education about the harms of vaping.

“We need to empower young people to understand the real risks of vaping – without using scare tactics – so that they are equipped to make critical decisions before the move to high school,” he said.

Schools in Logan have been quick to adopt the program, including Eagleby and Eagleby South State Schools, Bethania Lutheran Primary School and Canterbury College which have already booked Life Ed sessions for their students.

The new vaping program will be delivered by Life Ed’s team of specialist educators, and has been co-designed with young people from across Australia with funding from Consumer Healthcare Products Australia (CHP Australia).

Take a Breath uses videos and other resources featuring children in years 5 and 6 who have genuine questions about smoking and vaping, alongside high school students who provide the evidence-based answers.

The innovative peer-to-peer program helps kids use critical thinking skills to understand the issues, such as the health and environmental impacts, changing laws and social influences.

Life Ed Queensland’s own vaping survey of Queensland parents, teachers and students, presented to the state government, revealed about 30 per cent of year 5 and 6 students may vape in the future – with students who recently saw others vape, more than three times as likely to vape themselves.

Fawsitt said knowledge and early education are a key part of the vaping solution.

“If children can understand the risks, they can make informed choices,” he said.

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