Vaping discussion panel. From left: Laura Martin, Anita Jagroop-Dearing, Georgia Dearing and Jess Threw


Hastings has 13 vape shops and many Hawke’s Bay parents with children who vape, or have friends who do, are seriously concerned about the immediate as well as long term (yet unknown) impact of vaping.

This was one of the conclusions drawn at the Family Health Fair sponsored by Health Research Foundation – Hawke’s Bay on 22 June at The Blyth Performing Arts Centre. 

Among many activities, an anti-vaping panel discussion led by Te Pūkenga|EIT, researcher Associate Professor Anita Jagroop-Dearing drew the most interest.

Says Laura Martin, the Foundation’s Chief Marketing Officer, “The worries of parents on vaping are far greater than I was aware. I had mothers come up to me after the panel asking whether I thought it would be a possibility for them to start an ongoing demonstration right in front of the vape shop in Havelock North to show parents’ dismay.

“While the government has carefully tightened a few rules, such as no ‘enticing’ flavour names or no new stores in proximity of schools, the reality is far removed from this.”

Martin says parents with children who have nothing to do with vapers directly are equally concerned as school toilets turn into a hub of vapers. 

“And teachers and principals are struggling to deal with this problem as children continue to find new ways to bring vapes and incorporate the use of them in their day, whether in the toilets, outside, or even in class.”

Martin followed up the anti-vaping panel discussion with an online poll on Facebook on the “Havelock North Friends & Neighbours” group page, wanting to know if people there felt the same. “Out of 50 votes, 94% were seriously concerned about our youth vaping,” she says. 

“Vaping is affecting not only youth health, but equally the quality of education and school culture.”

Anita Jagroop-Dearing, who led the anti-vaping panel, is a member of the Stop Adolescent Vaping E-Cigarettes (S.A.V.E.) group, formed in March 2020 as a multidisciplinary collective of Hawke’s Bay professionals. This  feeds into a wider youth anti-vaping national network.

 “We are all alarmed by the high levels of youth vaping,” she says, “ and the problem seems to be out of control with increased school absenteeism, inability to concentrate on school lessons due to nicotine addiction, respiratory and mental health problems. We are concerned about the creation of this new generation of nicotine-dependent youth who are also graduating to cigarette smoking.”

The others on the panel were Jess Threw,  a Population Health Advisor with Te Whatu Ora Te Matau a Māui. She has been involved in Smokefree mahi for around 10 years, and the Vapefree space for three years and chairs the Hawke’s Bay S.A.V.E kāhui (Stop. Adolescents. Vaping. E-Cigarettes) and sits on various other regional and national Vapefree kaupapa. 

The third person on the panel was Georgia Dearingwho is currently doing her first year in a Bachelor of Health Sciences at the University of Auckland. She graduated from Taradale High School in 2022 where she took on various leadership roles, and also saw the ongoing effects of vaping on her peers. This year she completed the Girl-Boss Health Edition course and hopes to continue expanding her knowledge of health and improving outcomes for youth in the future.

The annual Health Research Foundation – Hawke’s Bay Family Health Fair brings together over 10 different partners in holistic health and wellness, science and education, for a day of free activities.  

The Foundation has been around for 62 years – previously under the name Hawke’s Bay Medical Research Foundation. With its new name and local, holistic view on health, it invites people to learn more about the wonderful work done by local researchers and get involved or donate where they can:

In a new initiative, the Foundation wants to offer quick lunch time sessions, called Heart-to-Heart@12, to local businesses to showcase the kind of research it funds. Employees are given the opportunity to ask questions and the presentation takes 10-15 minutes, with a five minute question round after. Anyone interested should email Laura Martin at 
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


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