TV host and journalist Patrick Gower joined Jay-Jay & Flynny to discuss the epidemic that is vaping. New stats show that 1 in 5 school kids are now vaping in New Zealand. It is a widespread issue that is getting our youth hooked on nicotine.
Vaping is largely unregulated and access to these nicotine devices is widely accessible.
"One particular vape chain that I talked to in the documentary, there more of their stores than KFC’s in NZ,” says Patrick Gower, added how shocked he was that New Zealand is behind other developed countries with regulations around vapes.
"What really freaked me out is America is cracking down on vaping, this is a country that won't crack down on guns. Meanwhile, come back to NZ and it's available at the corner dairy."
Vaping was first introduced into the New Zealand market as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, Patrick Gower highlighted how the problem is with people who have never smoked cigarettes who are addicted to nicotine vapes.
“My mum died of smoking. There will be people listening who went from smoking to vaping, you've probably saved your life. But, the question is around all of these people who are vaping but have never smoked and are addicted to nicotine.”
Halfway through the conversation, Director Dave (Executive Producer of More FM's Jay-Jay & Flynny show) opened up about his struggle with vape addiction. He explains how he started off doing it as it was "the cool thing", and now he is in a helpless position where he can't break his addiction, and can't access support to help him.
Dave shares, “The only time that I successfully stopped vaping was when I had nicotine gum. So I got that through Quitline and for six months I was clean. I was great, it was awesome, and then started vaping again."
"I've got a baby on the way and I wanted to start stopping again so I contacted Quitline last night and I said to them, 'Oh, can I please have some more nicotine gum?'"
"Their reply back to me was, 'Unfortunately, David we don't give NRT for vaping. Please talk to your GP or pharmacist.'"
Explaining that he had previously received nicotine gum, he asked why it was no longer a possibility.
"They go, 'I'm sorry David that this isn't the case. In the last two months, we're not able to give NRT to vapers.'"
"And I said, so how am I supposed to quit vaping?"
"[Quitline] are sort of failing me. I want to do something to change but you guys are making it difficult for me to go to a GP and then pay $60 to get a prescription from them - when I could have got it for free two months ago from Quitline, who want us to stop doing this stuff right?"
Dave explains that Quitline attempted to give him free and alternative solutions to help guide him out of nicotine addiction, which he found were unhelpful.
"So they said you can try some breathing exercises... or whenever you're feeling a trigger go outside and release it."
Desperate, Dave explains how he feels helpless trying to battle his addiction.
"I've tried this stuff and it doesn't work. This is so addictive and there is just as much nicotine [in a vape] as there is in a cigarette and it's so hard to give this up. And I'm actually on the verge of tears because I feel like I'm being failed. I am so addicted to this. At the moment, I feel like I don't have an out.”
This vulnerability from Dave left Patrick Gower shocked and disgusted, and Jay-Jay Feeney in tears.
“This is insane," Patrick shares. "I just want to say a couple of things, Dave. Addiction is a disease and you should never feel that people are looking down on you because you can't give up vaping. Nicotine, Dave, we know, mate, is one of the most crippling addictions known to the human race and that's what you're suffering from. You know I can see Jay-Jay you're deeply affected by this.
Jay-Jay fighting back tears agrees. “Yeah, because I love Dave of course. And I'm upset too, like I wish you knew this when you did the doco actually because it'd be quite good if you could have confronted Quitline about this. This is an issue. I didn't realise about until Dave told us.”
Patrick Gower, visibly frustrated and emotional that Quitline won't support those addicted to vapes then said, “You know this is the thing the whole health system and Quitline and everything that goes with it is stacked against people who vape."
"It's like we're ignoring people like Dave who is locked in a very deep struggle here. Look at the poor guy holding up his vape that he doesn't want to have and he wants more money for the family and a kind of a cost-of-living crisis.
"So I hope that the government and Healthline you know see Dave because he's not just speaking for himself. That's what's making me extra proud of him right now. Dave is speaking for hundreds of thousands of Kiwis including kids who don't have a voice.“
Hear the full two-part interview with Patrick Gower above, and watch 'Patrick Gower: On Vaping' on ThreeNow.