Adults' rate of smoking has declined to 15 per cent in the
latest census, down from 20.7 per cent in 2006.
Census 2013 counted 463,000 adults who smoked one or more
cigarettes a day, compared with 598,000 at the previous
The data does not include people who smoked tobacco in
cigars, pipes or cigarillos.
The Ministry of Health's 2011/12 survey of people 15 and
older found a daily smoking rate of 16.5 per cent. That
survey defined smoking to include all tobacco products.
The Government's official target is that New Zealand will be
substantially "smokefree" by 2025, which is generally
understood to mean a prevalence of less than 5 per cent. The
mid-term target is 10 per cent by 2018.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) communications manager
Michael Colhoun welcomed the ongoing reduction in the
prevalence of smoking.
"We are very pleased with the figures. It's still too far out
to know whether this will bring us to smokefree 2025. Fifteen
per cent is well on track to be hitting that 10 per cent by
To make sure New Zealand reached the 2025 target, Mr Colhoun
urged the Government, in addition to its programme of tobacco
tax increases, to introduce further tobacco-control measures,
such as plain packaging of tobacco, a ban on smoking in cars
containing children and the removal of the duty-free status
for travellers bringing tobacco with them into New Zealand.
He also called for registration of tobacco sellers, and
increased Government control of tobacco ingredients, such as
a reduced nicotine level and a ban on additives, including
chocolate, that made cigarettes more palatable.
Quitline Chief Executive Paula Snowden said the drop in the
smoking rate was "a monumental shift. We're thrilled to see
such a big drop in the number of smokers in New Zealand.
These figures validate the hard work of all of us in tobacco
control and send a strong signal that we will rid New Zealand
of tobacco products.
"There are over 135,000 fewer smokers in New Zealand. That's
the equivalent of the entire population of Hamilton. We
congratulate each and every one of these people who have
battled to free themselves of this terrible addiction."
Quitline is particularly pleased to see a steady decline in
the rates of smoking within Maori and Pacific populations,
which have always been notoriously high. Smoking prevalence
among Maori has dropped from 42.2 per cent in 2006 to 32.7
per cent in 2013.
- By Martin Johnston of the New Zealand Herald