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Statistics New Zealand documents released to the Otago Daily Times revealed there were 17.1% fewer European regular smokers in Otago (22,680 to 18,792) and 9.6% fewer in Southland (12,390 to 11,199) between the 2006 and 2013 censuses.
Nationally, 16.9% fewer Europeans smoked regularly.
Fewer Maori in the South smoked - 16.4% fewer in Otago (2889 to 2415) and 8.5% fewer in Southland (2706 to 2475). Nationally, 15.7% fewer Maori smoked.
And fewer Pacific people smoked in the South - 5.3% fewer in Otago (558 to 339) and 7% fewer in Southland (339 to 315).
Nationally, 10.8% fewer Pacific people smoked.
Although 17.6% fewer Asians regularly smoked in Otago (696 to 573), 65% more Asians were smoking in Southland (114 to 189).
But nationally, 5.8% fewer Asians smoked in New Zealand.
In the South, more Middle Eastern, Latin American and African people smoked - 5.5% more in Otago (162 to 171) and the Southland smokers doubled (15 to 30).
Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia said the increased population of Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and African people in New Zealand had skewed the statistics on regular smoking.
''I don't think there is anything to be alarmed about.''
The decline in smoking rate of Maori and Pasifika people was pleasing, because they historically had the highest smoking figures in New Zealand, she said.
The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Products and Packaging) Amendment Bill was lodged before Christmas last year and would be ready for its first reading soon, she said.
''Removing tobacco company colours, logos and other marketing ploys designed to make tobacco products glamorous and attractive is an important step in reducing the uptake of smoking.''
A University of Otago Wellington trial will let smokers try nicotine replacement therapies at shopping malls, to experience how effective they are.
Lead researcher Dr Brent Caldwell said the trial would enable smokers to experience the benefits of nicotine replacement therapy and become more confident in their ability to quit smoking.
Giving smokers the chance to try nicotine replacement therapy would encourage them to use it and double their chances of quitting, Dr Caldwell said.
Smokers are being invited to take part in the study by attending a nicotine replacement therapy stall which will open at North City Mall in Porirua this month, and in Palmerston North and Manawatu in March.