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Teen smoking rates halved in less than a decade

Teen smoking rates halved in less than a decade

Figures released by ASH New Zealand show that teen smoking rates have halved in the last 8 years.

In 2006, 14.2 percent of Year 10 New Zealand teenagers said they were smokers, down from 28.6 percent in 1999 according to the Year 10 Smoking Survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) New Zealand, and the Health Sponsorship Council (HSC).

Teenagers who have never smoked increased from 31.6 percent in 1999 to 53.8 percent in 2006. This means more than half of all Year 10 students have never had even one puff of a cigarette.

Ben Youdan, ASH Director says, “It is fantastic to see increasing numbers of teenagers turning their backs on tobacco.

“The tobacco companies have long portrayed smoking as a cool and grown-up behaviour, and we are delighted that teenagers are showing that they’re not there to be manipulated by a ruthless industry trying to replace the 5000 Kiwi smokers who are killed by their product each year”.

Teenagers from homes where parents smoke are more likely to be smokers themselves. One third of teenagers whose parents both smoke, smoke themselves (33.0%), whereas only 7.6 percent of teens whose parents don’t smoke, smoke themselves.

“Parents express concern that there is little they can do to stop their children from taking up smoking. The results clearly indicate that parents play a vital part in whether their children become smokers.

“If you are a parent who is worried about your child taking up smoking, and you smoke, the best thing you could do for your child’s present and future health and wellbeing is to quit smoking,” says Mr Youdan.

During 1999-2006 the prevalence of smoking amongst year 10 students declined in all District Health Boards (DHBs). Auckland DHB region has the lowest Year 10 smoking rate in the country at 8.5 percent. Wanganui DHB region has the highest Year 10 smoking rate in the country at 23.3 percent.

The ASH Year 10 survey has been conducted annually since 1997 and surveys around 30,000 Year 10 students from around New Zealand. This year 32,954 questionnaires from Year 10 students were analysed.



Vital Facts:

- From 1999 to 2006, current smoking prevalence (daily, weekly, or monthly) has declined from 28.6 percent to 14.2 percent.

- 17.6 percent of girls (20.4 in 2005) and 10.8 percent of boys (12.9 in 2005) smoke (daily, weekly or monthly).

- For the third consecutive year, the percentage of Maori girls who smoke has reduced. The percentage of Year 10 Maori girls who have never had even one puff of a cigarette increased from 12.4 percent in 1999 to 23.5 percent in 2006.

- The gap in the prevalence of students who have never smoked widened during 2001-2006 between students from homes that do not allow smoking inside compared to those that do.

- Of pupils who come from homes where both parents smoke, 33.0 percent smoke themselves. This drops to 19.0 percent where only one parent smokes, and only 7.6 percent of students whose parents don’t smoke, smoke themselves.

- Parents play a vital part in their children not taking up smoking. The percentage of Year 10 students who have never smoked was greater among students whose parents don’t smoke (65.6%) than the percentage of students whose parents do smoke (27.5%).

Fact Sheets and statistics on smoking trends including smoking by DHB, ethnicity, gender, parental smoking status and SES (school decile) are available at


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