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Smokefree campaign discourages youth smoking

Hon Damien O’Connor
Associate Minister of Health
29 September 2008 Media Statement
Smokefree campaign discourages youth smoking

A youth-targeted smokefree campaign is discouraging young people from smoking according to new data released today by Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor.

The Health Sponsorship Council's 'Smoking Not Our Future' campaign promotes anti-smoking and positive quitting messages via celebrity testimonials and aims to challenge attitudes towards smoking among young people aged 12 to 24 years.

Of 939 respondents in an evaluation of the campaign, 74 percent agreed that the ads make smoking seem 'less cool' and 82 percent of those aged 12-14 years and 63 percent of those aged 15-17 years agreed that the ads have put them off smoking.

"This campaign is ringing true for many young New Zealanders. If we can stop our young people from smoking then generations to come will be healthier and we will continue to see a downward spiral in the number of people who smoke," said Mr O'Connor.

One in four respondents reported knowing someone who has tried to quit smoking as a result of the campaign, and around half of young people who smoke reported that the ads made them think they should try and quit. Priority audiences of the campaign, Maori and Pacific young people, also say the campaign challenges their attitudes towards smoking. 84 percent of Maori and 81 percent of Pacific young people agreed that the ads have given them good reasons not to smoke.

Mr O'Connor said these figures go hand in hand with results from the 2007 Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Year 10 Survey which shows youth smoking rates dropped to 12.8 percent in 2007, down from 28.6 percent in 1999.

"It is in New Zealand's best interest to continue the momentum in the battle to combat smoking, which kills around 13 New Zealanders every day. There is still much work to be done. Tobacco control is a high priority for this government. In this year’s Budget we committed an additional $32 million over the next four years to make even greater reductions in smoking rates and in the number of teens taking up smoking.

“We must make even faster progress towards achieving our goal of a smokefree New Zealand, in turn ensuring more New Zealanders have the chance to live a healthy life,” Mr O’Connor said.

High profile music and media personalities P-Money, Dominic Bowden, Shavaughn Ruakere and DJ Sir-Vere are among the 30 celebrities featured in the campaign since it launched in November 2006, providing their personal views on smoking.
The Smoking Not Our Future campaign (www.notourfuture.co.nz) is planned to extend until at least June 2009.

ENDS

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