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Ministry of Health releases latest tobacco trends

Media Release

18 December 2006

Ministry of Health releases latest tobacco trends

The Ministry of Health has today released its annual Tobacco Trends publication (formerly Tobacco Facts). Tobacco Trends 2006 provides the most up to date statistics on smoking prevalence and consumption in New Zealand.

This is the first year that data from the New Zealand Tobacco Use Survey are presented in this publication and the first time that comprehensive information about youth smoking prevalence has been available.

Tobacco Trends 2006 indicates that the number of New Zealanders who smoke overall continues to decline at around 0.1-0.2 percentage points on average every year. The prevalence of current smokers is around 23.5% and large ethnic differences persist with Maori and Pacific peoples having higher rates than other New Zealanders.

Chief Advisor Public Health Ashley Bloomfield says, "our workplaces are now largely smokefree and most New Zealanders now support smokefree pubs as the norm. In addition, there is a range of initiatives and smoking cessation programmes currently funded by the Ministry of Health to help further reduce smoking prevalence in New Zealand".

"Our national Quitline continues to attract increasing numbers of people wanting to quit each year. Maori callers represent 20% of total callers to the Quitline, a positive step towards reducing the high prevalence of smoking among Maori."

The report shows that around 19% of people currently identify themselves as ex-smokers, a large proportion of whom begin to quit once they hit the age of 40.

Another interesting finding from the report is that the highest smoking prevalence is among young New Zealanders aged between 15 and 29 years old, with almost one in every four teenagers aged 15 to 19 years currently smoking.

Dr Bloomfield says, "we're specifically looking at cessation options for teens. Evidence from the clinical trial undertaken by the Clinical Trials Research Unit at Auckland University (Stop Smoking by Mobile Phone (STOMP)) showed that delivering supportive text messages helps youth to quit smoking. This trial used text messaging to provide youth with quitting tips, text quizzes and polls etc. throughout the day, encouraging them to quit with the help of mobile phones.

Ashley Bloomfield says, "The Ministry of Health is now funding a wider rollout of the STOMP programme as part of cessation services. This will present an innovative and effective option for people wanting to quit and is likely to appeal particularly to young people.

Data will continue to be collected and reported on annually, in order to track trends in tobacco use. This assists the Ministry of Health to continually review the effectiveness of services and Smokefree education programmes, says Dr Bloomfield.

ENDS

To access the full publication online go to www.moh.govt.nz

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