Source: Stuff, 16 December 2016
An ever-increasing number of people are stubbing out their
cigarettes for the last time, bringing renewed hope that New
Zealand could be smokefree by 2025.
New research has revealed the number of regular smokers dropped
to 15.1 per cent in 2013, according to NZ Census data, which
translates to a 22.5 per cent drop in smokers since 2006.
"There's a decline in overall and Pacific, Maori and young
people. It all looks pretty good," study co-author Professor
Richard Edwards, of Otago University, said.
However, Maori rates remain a concern. Latest Health
Survey data from the Ministry of Health reveals Maori
levels were at 38.6 per cent, a small decline from 42.1 per
cent in 2006-07.
Among Maori women, the rate dropped from 45.1 per cent in
2006-07 to 39.7 per cent.
Edwards feels the Goverment goal of being
smokefree by 2025 - which is actually a target of 5 per cent
or fewer adults smoking - is within reach.
"But unless there's a change of tack, particularly in Maori,
then it's not going to happen.
"It's much less substantial and very disappointing
among Maori and Pacific," Edwards, also co-director of
smokefree research group Aspire 2025, said.
To hit the 2025 target, "we need to do that for all
"Whatever way we look at it, we need to do more to help Maori
SMOKING IN CARS
Banning smoking in cars carrying children under 18 has been
recommended by Parliament's health committee, and Associate Health
Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has said the Government will
consider the recommendation.
However, Edwards is unconvinced a law will ever be passed.
"They might say they will look at it, but I think they
will rule it out."
Labour health spokeswoman Annette King said she intended to
"make a very strong recommendation" for a ban. "You would
monitor it the same way you do with cellphones - fines."
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Lotu-Iiga said there was still "much work to be done" in order
to reach 2025 smokefree goal.
"Maori women are a priority group for all tobacco control
"The 'Stop Before You Start' smoking media campaign is specifically
aiming at young adults between 17-24, particularly young
In September, a bill to introduce plain packaging on
tobacco passed into law.
At the time, Lotu-Iiga said the bill moved to "take away
the last means of promoting tobacco as a desirable product".
He is hopeful the new packs will be in stores late next
Tax increases will continue on tobacco till 2020, in an effort
to price smoking further out of reach.
Tobacco tax revenue for the 2015-16 financial year rose to
But the burden on the health system still outweighs tax
revenue - in 2010 direct healthcare costs generated by
smoking-related illness were estimated at $1.9b annually,
compared with tobacco tax revenue at the time of $1.3b.
"If less money is spent treating smoking-related diseases, there
is potentially more money to spend on other areas of healthcare,"
One of the Government's key health targets was centred around
GPs offering enrolled patients help to quit smoking.
"There's quite a lot of evidence that if you simply say to
someone 'You should stop smoking' that they give up," Karori
GP Jeff Lowe said.
He believed that normalising quitting could happen very
"Think about it. It's now unusual to walk into a smoky bar, but
in Europe you still can.
"What's important is we've got a target in mind and we're
reducing rates, and whether we achieve that or not is another
WHAT ABOUT E-CIGARETTES?
Parliament will decide in 2017 whether e-cigarettes and vaping
will be permitted in a smokefree New Zealand.
"The Government has recently consulted the public on a proposal
to allow the sale of nicotine containing e-cigarettes, with
appropriate controls," Lotu-Iiga said.
"The future regulation of e-cigarettes is under active
consideration and decisions are expected in the first half of
A recent literature review suggested vaping could help with
weight control by staving off food cravings that occur when people
try to quit smoking.
HOW WE COMPARE:
Daily smoking rates of adults in 2011
OECD average: 20.3 per cent
New Zealand: 16.5 per cent
Australia: 15.1 per cent
United States: 14.8 per cent
Canada:15.7 per cent
United Kingdom: 19.6 per cent
Ireland: 29.0 per cent