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Smoking Rate Continues Record Decline To Only 6.8% Daily Use, Māori And Pacific Rates Are Also Reduced

ASH is delighted that daily smoking results from the annual New Zealand Health Survey are continuing to decrease at record rates and are still at an all-time low. This means Aotearoa remains on track to reach the 2025 Smokefree goal of 5%.

Director of ASH Ben Youdan says the figures show that daily smoking rates have fallen from 8.6% last year, to 6.8% this year, keeping the country as one of the lowest smoking populations in the world, “74,000 thousand fewer people are smoking daily than last year. The rate of decline over the last 4 years is unprecedented, and it is vital that this momentum is maintained.”

The rapid decrease in smoking correlates with increased vaping. 9.7% of adults are reporting daily vape use, an increase from 8.4% in 2021/22. Recent data from Te Whatu Ora also showed that in 2021/22 78% of adult daily vapers are smokers or ex-smokers.

ASH is also very pleased that in particular, daily smoking rates for groups that have historically had the highest smoking rates are also decreasing. For Māori the new data shows 17.1% smoke daily, this is a 4% drop from last year. Wāhine Māori has seen an especially impressive trend, with daily smoking at 17.5%, half the smoking rates recorded five years ago.

ASH board member and head of the Māori SUDI Prevention Service, Fay Selby-Law says, “It’s extremely encouraging to see that in the last 5 years, wāhine Māori smoking rates have been in freefall, with some of the most impressive quit rates of any population both in Aotearoa and worldwide. Many have benefited from the amazing support provided by community stop smoking services and the benefits to health and whānau are huge”

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With Pasikifa smoking, the survey shows that the rates are on the way down at last. ASH Board member Sir Collin Tukuitonga says, “the trend for Pasifika appears positive, however, the sample remains very small meaning it may be unreliable. We need to see future surveys increase the quality of this data with larger samples that better reflect our population”

The survey also shows ongoing decreases in smoking for the youngest groups compared to a decade ago when under 25s smoked the most. Only 3% of under 25s reported daily smoking, far exceeding the goal of 5% by 2025. The latest data shows that middle aged kiwis still have the largest smoking rates.

It is still concerning that smoking remains highest in the lowest income populations, the rate is still three times that of the wealthiest. Mr Youdan says, “despite a very positive picture overall of declining smoking rates, the burden remains greatest on people in the most deprived areas. Not only does this mean their health toll is still much worse, but also it’s the poorest smokers who have contributed more than 50% of the annual tobacco tax take of $1.6bn in 2022.”

ASH says that although the results show Aotearoa is still well ahead of its target to be Smokefree by 2025 (less than 5% for the whole population), it is more important than ever to maintain the momentum against smoking to help stem the leading cause of preventable premature deaths in NZ.

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