About 70,000 fewer adults smoke tobacco daily now than three
years ago, the latest official survey has found.
The Health Ministry will today release smoking prevalence
data, including the ethnic breakdown of the figures, from its
latest New Zealand Health Survey, conducted last year and
However, a preview snippet of the results, already published
on the ministry's website, says the provisional data
indicates that about 17 per cent of people aged 15 or older
are daily smokers. That equates to about 600,000 people.
The prevalence was more than one-tenth lower than in 2009,
when the ministry found that 19 per cent of adults smoked
Tobacco control and public health advocates have hailed the
reduction as a vindication of the Government's efforts to cut
"These data show that we've got momentum towards a smoke-free
nation," said public health physician Dr Murray Laugesen.
Action on Smoking and Health director Ben Youdan said, "It's
good news to see that it's going down. More people are
quitting, the investment to get people to quit is working
well and the tax increases are working."
The Government has set 2025 as its target for New Zealand to
be "smoke-free", by which it means a minimal rate of smoking.
The ministry says deaths from smoking are the leading
preventable cause of premature death. It is estimated that
each year around 4500 people die from smoking-related causes.
The Government is in the middle of a programme of major
increases in tobacco excise tax and in July forced retail
displays of tobacco to be covered up. It is now considering
public submissions on its proposal to follow Australia and
impose plain packaging of cigarettes and loose tobacco,
allowing virtually no branding.
Cancer Society national tobacco control adviser Skye Kimura
said the reduction was "worth celebrating". But more drastic
measures were needed, such as bigger excise rises and some
form of licensing of tobacco retailers allied to controls on
where tobacco could be sold.
Prevalence of daily tobacco smoking among people aged 15 or
Source: New Zealand Health Surveys, Ministry of Health