A National Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Plan

What is Smokefree 2025? 

In 2010 the Maori Affairs Select Committee investigated the impact the tobacco industry is having on Maori and New Zealand. The result was a strong recommendation from the committee that New Zealand become smokefree by 2025, and less than 5% of people smoke. The New Zealand government agreed to the goal – a historic move that has set global precedent.

And yet, we do not have a plan on how to get to our goal.

Why do we need a national plan?

Smoking causes the early deaths of 5,500 New Zealanders every year. It is also a leading cause of health inequities; smoking related diseases – cancer, heart and lung diseases – as well as deaths are 2-3 times higher in Māori and Pacifica.

The problem:

  • Currently 500,000 New Zealanders smoke.
  • The majority are in the 25-54 year age range.
  • Only about 20,000 people stop smoking each year.
  • To reach the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal (<5% adult daily smokers), this needs to triple to at least 60,000 quitters every year.
  • Half of all quitters must be Māori or Pacifica.

The smokefree sector is unanimous in the call for a national plan to achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal.

A plan to reach the goal has been promised, but not delivered, for the last two terms of Government.

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Why is this so important?

Smokefree 2025 has never been backed up with a plan to achieve the goal. There is no national strategy, no milestones and no process to guide progress and action. With less than 5 years until 2025, we cannot afford to wait and see. We need a clear process to decide on the best possible actions, work out how to best achieve them and to review progress. 

5,000 people a year are still dying from tobacco use, with a disproportionate burden on Maori and Pacific communities. 

What should a plan include?

A five-year plan must:

  • Include immediate actions for 2021 to accelerate the decline in smoking;
  • Propose longer-term measures such as controls on the tobacco industry and supply; and
  • Provide an investment strategy.

It should clearly:

  • Communicate to New Zealanders what actions are being taken to achieve the goal, in particular to substantially increase quitting especially among Māori, Pacifica and low -income New Zealanders;
  • Urgently take advantage of recent legislation on vaping and continue to promote vaping as a support measure for smokers wanting to quit; and
  • Provide regular and transparent monitoring of progress.

The investment strategy must recognise that:

  • New Zealanders who smoke pay over $2 billion in tax each year; and the poorest pay the most - at least $1.2 billion is paid by the poorest 40% of smokers; and
  • 1% of the total cigarette tax would provide an annual budget of $20 million to help all smokers make substantive improvements not only in their health, but also in their economic wellbeing.

What is the government doing?

Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced proposals for a smokefree plan in mid April 2021.  The proposals are far-reaching and world-leading. Together, they would form a firm basis for achieving the smokefree goal.

Submissions on the proposals closed on 31 May.  We are now waiting on the Government's response to the submissions.  In the interim, the Government has increased the budget to support the smokefree goal, by $36.6M over 4 years for community-led initiatives and mass media campaigns.  To read more, click HERE.

ASH proposes immediate action on three measures that are easy to implement and have wide support. To view those measures, click HERE.