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Decrease In NZ Tobacco Consumption Welcome

31 May 2002

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said a decrease in tobacco consumption in New Zealand is good news on World Smoke Free Day.

Tobacco Facts 2002, released today, shows tobacco consumption has decreased by more than a third in the last ten years, a trend that continued in 2001.

"The continued decrease in tobacco consumption is encouraging and will have great benefits for the health of New Zealanders," said Tariana Turia.

The drop in tobacco consumption will be partly due to a 14 percent tax increase on cigarettes from May 2000 which saw the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes increase by $1. The tobacco industry increased its prices at the same time.

"Quit programmes, media campaigns, and other health promotion efforts will have also contributed to this decrease," said Tariana Turia.

However, Tariana Turia said despite the decrease in tobacco consumption, far too many New Zealanders are still smoking.

Latest Ministry of Health figures show 25 percent of New Zealanders over 15 years smoke. This figure includes those who smoke less than one cigarette a day.

The number of adult smokers has not changed much in the past few years, with slight decreases during the 1990s.

"Smoking prevalence among older age groups has decreased in the last ten years, and a recent survey of fourth formers showed smoking among 14 and 15 year olds had decreased since the the late 1990s."

Tariana Turia said although quitting smoking can be very difficult, a number of quit-smoking programmes have been put in place or enhanced by this Government.

"For example the Quitline programme provides advice, support and subsidised nicotine replacement therapy to over 30,000 smokers each year."

Tariana Turia said smoking is by far the leading risk factor causing preventable deaths in New Zealand.

"Many deaths and illnesses could be prevented if smoking was further reduced and I would encourage all smokers to celebrate World Smoke Free Day by quitting smoking for good."

Tobacco Facts 2002 are available on the Ministry of Health website http://www.moh.govt.nz/,
the Public Health Intelligence website: www.moh.govt.nz/phi
and the National Drug Policy website http://www.ndp.govt.nz/


ENDS

BACKGROUND

Smoking is estimated to cause between 4300 and 4700 deaths in New Zealand each year and secondhand cigarette smoke is estimated to cause about 350 deaths in New Zealand each year.

Each year over 1500 female deaths (11 percent in females aged 15 or older) and over 2700 male deaths (19 percent in males aged 15 or older) could be prevented if smoking was eliminated.

It is estimated that those smokers who die prematurely, lose an average of 14 years of life compared with non-smokers.

Maori - each year 21 percent of Maori female deaths are attributable to smoking and 22 percent of Maori male deaths are attributable to smoking.

Pacific People - each year eight percent of Pacific female deaths and 19 percent of Pacific male deaths could be avoided if smoking was eliminated.

European/Others - each year 10 percent of deaths for European/other females and 19 percent of deaths for European/other males are attributable to smoking.

Over the past 24 years, the overall rate of smoking has dropped by 30 percent.

Prevalence of cigarette smoking in ethnic groups aged 15 years and over in 2001 remained fairly static for European/other with just over one in five smoking. One in three Pacific People were smokers and one in two Maori.

Initiatives the Government has put in place in recent years to reduce smoking rates, and the amount smoked, include:
- National television advertising campaigns "Every cigarette is doing you damage" (started in 1999) and "It's about whanau"(started in 2001) encouraging people to quit smoking
- A national free-phone Quitline that people can call for advice and assistance to quit (started in 1999).
- Subsidising nicotine replacement therapy through the Quitline.
- Smoking cessation programmes for Maori, pregnant women and other groups.
- A youth tobacco strategy (1996 - 1999) including: increased enforcement of the ban on selling cigarettes to children; increased funding for the Health Sponsorship Council; and funding for a smokefree schools programme.


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