Students have been invited to join a roundtable into reducing the vaping in NSW schools.

The round table be occur on November 16, with a number of principals, health experts and other stakeholders including NSW’s chief health officer Kerry Chant, Cancer Council NSW’s Tobacco Control Unit Alecia Brookes and University of Sydney School of Public Health Associate Professor Becky Freeman.

The panel will also include representatives from the NSW Department of Education, NSW Teachers Federation, NSW P & C Federation and the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People.

The findings will then be used to implement policies to curb the addictive and harmful habit, with e-cigarettes containing toxic chemicals like ethylene glycol – a compound also found in antifreeze.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said despite smoking rates dropping to historic lows, evidence now suggested vaping was becoming a gateway for smoking in young people.

“This is a way to hear directly from schools, health experts and other key stakeholders on how we can begin to address this serious health issue in our schools,” he said.

Previously, Education Minister Prue Car said a vaping and e-cigarette crackdown in schools would be a “top order priority” for the government.

“They smell like fruit, many of them and they look like little highlighters, but they are dangerous,” she said.

“We need to make sure that we’re giving that information to children in a way they can consume because we’re seeing children in primary schools, and obviously in high schools (vape) because they don’t really know the dangers.”

Between January 1 to June 30 this year, NSW Health seized a record breaking 187,000 illicit vaping products, with the health body conducting more than 5000 inspections.

Retailers illegally caught selling vapes are liable for serious sanctions and punishments including up to six months jail.

The government has also committed $6.8m over the next three years to crack down on the sale of illegal vapes.

A week-long crackdown in September also resulted in NSW Health seizing 23,247 vaping products with a street value of more than $695,000.

A total of $4.3m has been given to strengthen compliance and enforcement measures in the retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical settings for vapes, with an additional $2.5m to be delivered in the next year to help young people quit vaping.

This includes an online learning module for youth services in NSW, plus a new digital platform and enhancements to the iCanQuit initiative.

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