Health Survey Shows NZ On Track To Achieve Smokefree 2025, As Vaping Overtakes Smoking.

Media release

17 November 2022


Results from the annual New Zealand Health Survey show smoking is at an all-time low and Aotearoa is on target for Smokefree 2025, says ASH.

ASH director Ben Youdan says the figures show that the huge drop in smoking seen last year was not a one off. From 2021 to 2022, daily smoking has fallen from 9.4% to 8%. Aotearoa now has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world.

“The influence of safer alternatives to smoking such as vaping, efforts by grassroots smoking cessation programmes and the investment going into communities to stop people smoking are all working.”

“This new data shows that the number of people vaping daily has overtaken daily smoking for the first time. 8.3% of people reported daily vaping compared to 8% who smoke daily. While some people will be concerned by rising vaping numbers, the habit poses only a small fraction of a health risk compared to smoking. 55,000 fewer people are smoking than last year and thousands of people will avoid cancer and heart disease as a result.”

“We don’t want children and our youth taking up vaping, but it is a vital tool helping current smokers to stop their fatal habit; and it will reduce death and disease,” Ben Youdan says.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature deaths in NZ, killing 5000 Kiwis every year. It is particularly devastating for Māori and Pacific Peoples.

The new data shows around one in 12 adults smoke cigarettes daily, but this rises to 1 in five among Māori. A drop from one in 11 adults and 1 in four Māori last year.

The survey shows that for the first time, the number of Māori women smoking is below that of Māori men, dropping from 24.1% to 18.2%. The rate of smoking for all Māori is now also below one in five at 19.9%, a drop from 22.3% last year.

ASH board member and frontline smoking cessation practitioner Rebecca Ruwhiu-Collins says: “The big drop in smoking by wāhine Māori is especially good news. I’ve been working to support wāhine to stop smoking for nearly 20 years, and never seen such an exciting and positive change in the smoking rates”.

“I run vape to quit groups and this data shows that vaping is part of this change and that wāhine Māori are empowered to reclaim their health from smoking”

Although the results are extremely encouraging for Māori and overall, Pacific daily smoking rates remain at 18.2%, with no significant change in the last 2 years.

The full 2021/22 Health Survey results may be found here:!/explore-indicators 

Smoking facts:

· Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Aotearoa New Zealand, causing more than 5,000 deaths every year – that’s 14 lives lost every day.

· Smoking is the leading cause of preventable health inequities being responsible for up to two years of the life expectancy gap experienced by Māori.

· Around one in 12 (8%) of adults smoke cigarettes daily, but this rises to one in five (19.9%) among Māori.

· People smoke cigarettes for the nicotine but die from the smoke from burning tobacco.

· Cigarette smoking imposes huge financial and health burdens on the poorest New Zealanders: in the poorest fifth of the population, one in four adults smoke.

Vaping facts:

· Over 340,000 New Zealanders vape daily.

· Vaping delivers a vapour composed mostly of propylene glycol (also used in asthma inhalers) and flavouring agents. Some, but not all, contain nicotine.

· According to the Royal College of Physicians, current evidence suggests vaping is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harms of smoking.

· Vaping is a harm reduction tool for those who are smoking. It is helping thousands of New Zealanders to stop smoking.

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