Smoke-free aim requires greater measures

More innovative stop-smoking measures are needed if New Zealand is to achieve its 2025 smoke-free goal, a University of Otago study has found.

The study surveyed 20 people who smoke daily, are aged between 21 and 53, and who earn less than the median income.

It explored the participants’ smoking history and their views on smoke-free policies, including potential tobacco endgame measures.

Otago Medical School third-year student and lead author Ivana Barbalich said even though all the study participants smoked, several supported innovative measures.

“For example, participants supported reducing the nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels and saw this measure as likely to help reduce their dependence on nicotine and become smoke-free.

“They also wanted more intensive personal support to help them quit but, despite their own sometimes difficult financial situation, they did not agree with a proposal where people would be paid to quit."

University of Otago (Wellington) Department of Public Health programme principal investigator and senior author Prof Janet Hoek said there was not a single, simple solution that would help New Zealand reach its smoke-free 2025 goal and reduce smoking prevalence among all population groups.

"We need a comprehensive strategy that includes the different measures our participants supported, and that we know are likely to be effective from larger surveys and modelling studies.

“We have a crucial opportunity with the Smokefree Action Plan to incorporate more diverse measures that change the structure of the tobacco marketplace.

"We have done a lot to reduce demand for tobacco by reducing advertising and promotion, but we need to change how tobacco products are designed and supplied, if we are to realise the smoke-free 2025 goal."

In particular, Prof Hoek said New Zealand must recognise tobacco companies were not legitimate enterprises selling normal everyday products, and we should stop treating them as though they were.

“We also need to understand that becoming smoke-free is not simply a matter of swapping one source of nicotine for another; it means recreating rituals that may provide social connections, comfort and relaxation."

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