Report shows significant decrease in smoking Thursday, 4 December 2014

Press Release: New Zealand Government

Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga welcomes a health report which shows more smokers have quit and fewer people have started smoking.

The New Zealand Health Survey: 2012/2013 Tobacco Use report showed smoking had declined from 1996/97 when 25% of the adult population were smokers to 18% by 2012/13.

The largest decrease was for 15-19 year olds. For this age group, smoking decreased by 36% between 2006/07 and 2012/13.

The report showed a significant increase in the number of people who successfully quit smoking - up from 8% of smokers in 2006 to 11% in 2012. Around 82,000 people successfully quit smoking in 2012/13.

"Tobacco use is the single largest avoidable cause of health loss and premature death in New Zealand," says Mr Lotu-Iiga. "This report shows a significant decline in smoking and it is pleasing to see that smoking is no longer attractive for young people.

"This Government is committed to the aspirational goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025. It is a challenge, but one that can be realistically achieved with continued and additional efforts on a range of tobacco control fronts. This includes media campaigns, legislation, price and smoking cessation support as well as new innovative policies to reach smokers who are less responsive to current policies.

"More work is needed with population groups with high smoking rates, such as Māori and Pacific peoples, in order to drive down their rates and decrease their burden of disease."

The Government has introduced significant legislative changes including increasing taxation levels (with further tax increases planned for 2015 and 2016), increased penalties and instant fines for those selling to minors, removal of retailers' ability to display tobacco products and reduced duty free tobacco allowances for incoming travellers. The Government has legislation before the House to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products.

The report is available here: www.health.govt.nz/publication/tobacco-use-2012-13-new-zealand-health-survey