Latest smoking statistics show a worrying lack of progress toward Smokefree 2025

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Nearly 7 years since the last government agreed to a goal for a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025, there is a concerning lack of progress. The latest Figures release by the Ministry of Health show that smoking has only declined by 2.5% from 18.2% to 15.7%. There is no significant change in smoking since the last figures were published in 2016. 

Even more concerning is that smoking rates for Maori women remain at nearly 40%. 

ASH Programme Manager Boyd Broughton said: ‘Despite increased taxes, removing tobacco displays and plain packs we are still not making enough progress. In 2010 the Maori affair select committee said in a report to Parliament that “We strongly believe that innovations in tobacco control should place financial, ethical, and legal pressure primarily on the tobacco industry.”

This advice seems to have been forgotten by the last Government. ASH is urging the new health minister to pick up the challenge, to recognise that Smokefree 2025 needs better ways of thinking, especially for Maori’. 

‘Since the report by the select committee, some of the fundamentals of New Zealand’s tobacco control programme have gradually been dismantled. The spend on smokefree advertising has fallen by two thirds, successful services have been cut and a focus on individual smokers has completely forgotten that there is a multi-billion dollar industry behind New Zealand’s tobacco deaths’.

‘At the current rate of decline it will take until 2030 to get smoking rates under 5%. For Maori, it will take until 2050. That is another generation of smokers, another generation of cancer, heart disease and avoidable deaths for Maori. The tobacco industry has taken enough lives already. The new Government has a made it clear that they will take on harmful industries – and Tobacco should at the top of this list.’