What we heard

Our expert interviews, school survey, and youth-led insight gathering processes surfaced six critical insights.

Vaping serves as a

Coping mechanism

for some young people

Vaping serves as a coping mechanism for some young people

53% of daily vapers feel stressed out or worried every day, compared to 33% of non-vapers.
– Hā Collective Vaping Survey

Our insight gathering reveals youth vaping needs to be seen in context – recognising the major challenges faced by young people today, including high levels of stress and mental health issues. For many young people, vaping is a response to – and an attempt to cope with – the very real pressures of the worlds they live in. Many young people are using vaping as a mental health regulator, or a means by which to ‘get through the day’. Some young people indicated that vaping seems like a preferable, less harmful option to other coping mechanisms or forms of risk-taking they could be engaging in – like using alcohol or other drugs, or self-harming.


Reactions to vaping can impact the way young people

see themselves

and their future

Reactions to vaping can impact the way young people see themselves and their future

41% of those who vape or have tried vaping wouldn’t want their teachers to find out.*
*Hā Collective Vaping Survey

Young people are keenly aware of the attitudes towards vaping held by their peers and the significant adults in their lives. They indicated there is a great deal of moral judgement about whether a young person chooses to vape or not. 

Schools are struggling to respond to the issue of student vaping, and many are taking a punitive approach – offering little in the way of restorative practice and critical thinking around risk taking behaviours. These punitive measures can have a profoundly negative, long-lasting impact – doing more harm to a young person’s wellbeing and future than the act of vaping itself might have.


Vapes are

Easily accessible

and often shared among friends

Vapes are easily accessible and often shared among friends

71% of rangatahi who buy their own vapes, are purchasing them from local vaping stores.*
*Hā Collective Vaping Survey

Whether young people identify as vapers or not, most say they have ready access to vapes – through whānau, peers, or local knowledge about retailers who are unlikely to check ID. 

Vapes are often passed around in social environments, and even those who identify as ‘non-vapers’ are likely to ‘have a hit’ – saying that sometimes, it’s just easier to join in.


Vaping could be

Just a phase

for some young people

Vaping could be ‘just a phase’ for some young people

35% of rangatahi who vape on a daily basis reported vaping because they ‘really enjoy it’ vs. only 9% of rangatahi who vape on a casual basis.
*Hā Collective Vaping Survey

Vaping is currently part of a cultural zeitgeist – trending in young people’s social spaces; both online and off. 

Vaping knowledge can be a form of social currency, with young people readily sharing what they know – costs, vaping flavours, nicotine levels, vape tricks, and more. 

Our insight gathering suggests that some young people will simply vape to be part of the ‘scene’, but are unlikely to keep it up or form long-term habits.


Young people want to make

informed decisions

young people want to
make informed decisions

“Haha you can tell these ad people are trying to be like young people but they’re just trying to scare me and assume that I’m a dumb young person.”
*Hā Collective Vaping Survey

Young people are well aware that the marketing strategies and accessibility of vapes are intentional ploys to get them to become purchasers and users of vaping products. On the other hand, rangatahi are also distrustful of ‘quit vape’ campaigns and conversations – viewing them as superficial scaremongering, delivered by ‘adults with an agenda'. 

Young people told us they want to access judgement-free information and conversations that can support their self-determination and decision-making.


Rangatahi don't like the idea of

Non-vapers starting

to vape

Rangatahi don’t like the idea of non-vapers starting to vape

“I wish there was less vaping amongst our tamariki. I think they’re doing it because we’re motivating them to do it by just vaping around them.”
*Hā Collective Vaping Survey

Young people who are already vaping are protective of those who are important to them, and many said they didn't want their peers, younger siblings, or cousins to start vaping. Rangatahi told us they didn’t want themselves or their loved ones to become victims to the rhetoric that vapers are ‘bad people’. They felt this narrative could undermine a young person’s ability to achieve their aspirations and goals. 

Our research indicated that rangatahi who vape are more likely to be concerned about their friends’ health than their own. In addition, they prefer to talk to school friends about their stress and worry, rather than parents or teachers.