19 October 2023

'Make sure you're informed': Vaping, cigarettes and drinking focus of new campaigns targeting youth

| Claire Sams
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four people with health promotion signs

Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain MP (second from left) joined COORDINARE, the Southern NSW Local Health District and headspace representatives to discuss efforts to reduce the incidence of vaping and smoking among young people in southern NSW. Photo: Supplied.

New campaigns are being rolled out in the hope of reducing the number of young people drinking, smoking or vaping.

CEO of COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network Prue Buist said the campaigns were in response to the rising use of vapes, cigarettes and alcohol among the region’s young people.

“It has been requested that we [COORDINARE], on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, fund the programs,” she said.

“These are focused on reducing or trying to combat the high incidence of vaping, smoking and risky alcohol use, particularly amongst the youth in our region.”

The campaigns will be aligned with messaging featured in state and national campaigns.

“What we’re trying to do is really try to put an early intervention of preventative strategies in place,” Ms Buist said.

“With these programs, we’re trying to reduce the health problems that might be exacerbated by vaping, smoking or risky alcohol use.

“There are a number of initiatives that we’re working with.”

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Ms Buist said COORDINARE would work with the organisations in service delivery.

“We’re the ones that essentially commissioned the providers to deliver the services,” she said.

In southern NSW, the Southern NSW Local Health District has been awarded funding for community and school-based initiatives to reduce young people’s use of vapes and cigarettes.

Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain said efforts to reduce vaping by young people had come at a key time.

“We know that young people are increasingly becoming addicted to vapes, exposing their developing lungs to nicotine and harmful substances,” she said.

“I welcome this initiative from Southern NSW Local Health District in our Eden-Monaro schools, highlighting the negative long-term effects of vaping and alcohol and educating young people in innovative ways that they can relate to.”

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has also been commissioned to run campaigns against vaping, smoking and drinking by young people in the state’s southeast, and will also work in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region.

Ms Buist said the messages would be run through several avenues.

“There are digital media campaigns trying to promote the key messages around reducing risks of vaping, smoking and drinking by those under 18,” she said.

“We’ve got a number of activities that are developed and delivered in settings such as sports clubs and local drug action teams.

“We are targeting areas like local high schools and youth organisations as well.”

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Ms Buist said the end-of-year period could see some young people turning to these behaviours as a coping mechanism for stress, trauma or other issues.

“I think there’s been a significant increase in the number of people vaping and smoking, or engaging in risky alcohol use,” she said.

“Some of these behaviours have been around for a long time, but you’ve got stress from potential fires and the HSC exams.

“People do sometimes tend to fall back on things that might not be so good for them.”

Ms Buist said the campaigns were not about shaming young people.

“It’s about reducing health problems and making people aware of the risks,” she said.

“It can sometimes seem cool to do these things, or you can get peer-pressured to be involved in these risky behaviours.

“But you’ve got to make sure you’re informed because it’s going to be your health that’s affected.”

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