Health: Smoking a dying habit in Aotearoa

Only 13 per cent of New Zealanders aged over 15 now regularly smoke.

Hāpai Te Hauora is quietly celebrating the release of Census 2018 figures which shows a drop in the proportion of regular smokers aged 15 years and over decreasing to 13 per cent, compared to the 2013 Census figures of 15 per cent.

“That amounts to every one in eight adults in New Zealand who smoke, about half a million people,” Mihi Blair, General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service at Hāpai, said.

“Even though the decrease is small, we should be celebrating.

“I would attribute this decrease to the rapidly rising cost of tobacco, an increase in smoking alternatives such as vaping and a lower number of young adults taking up smoking.

“What’s more, these decreasing figures should make tobacco companies realise that they are not wanted in Aotearoa anymore, as they get rid of their addiction to tobacco,” Blair said.

“When you consider that only 13.2 per cent of the New Zealand population aged over 15 now regularly smoke, and compare it with the 1976 Census figure of 35.6 per cent of people who smoke, you realise how far we come.

“However, we still have a long way to go if we are to attain the Smokefree 2025 goal of the population aged 15 and over who smoke being less than five per cent.

“There still needs to be a real push towards more investment in the SF2025 goal, with a focus on targeted approaches to support people to quit combined with access to harm reduction products, with serious consideration to regulate tobacco supply, nicotine content and flavours of tobacco products.”