New Zealand takes on big tobacco in the race to Smokefree 2025

The number of people smoking is declining at record levels.  Today Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall announced measures for the final push necessary to achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal.  Together the measures will reaffirm New Zealand as a global trail-blazer and signal to tobacco companies that their products, and the availability of them, are set to drastically change.

The measures include:

  • Making tobacco products less appealing and less addictive, including nicotine reduction and a restriction on modifying cigarettes.
  • Making smoked tobacco less available by restricting sales.
  • Ensuring the regulatory settings prefer less harmful vaping products over smoked cigarettes, whilst new measures will protect young people from vaping.
  • Building on the decreasing rates of youth smoking.
  • Fortifying measures to guard against illicit trade.
  • Support for community-led initiatives targeted at populations with high smoking rates, notably Māori and Pacific.
  • Strengthened Māori governance of tobacco control.

ASH Chair and founder, Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole has been working on getting New Zealand smokefree for over 40 years. He said, “It’s been a long slog, but it actually now looks like we will achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal. The Government is to be commended on its courage and commitment.  This collection of complementary measures will be the envy of countries struggling to combat the death and misery caused by smoked tobacco.  We will lead the world in tobacco control.”

Time is of the essence.  Today we have 4 years and 23 days to get to the Smokefree 2025 goal.  Professor Beaglehole added, “That means the Government announcements to increase investment in community-led initiatives and media to support quit attempts and to help people transition to less harmful alternatives, like vaping, are critical because they can be actioned immediately.  Other proposals, like product modification and supply reduction, will need more time to action as they need legislation.  The Government must introduce legislation as soon as possible.”

It was with cross party support that a National government introduced the Smokefree 2025 goal.  In the spirit of how we started the Smokefree 2025 journey, ASH urges other parties to support the Government to pass necessary legislation.

Useful information

  • To find out more about a smokefree plan – what is required and why, click HERE
  • To find out more about a cigarette butt ban, click HERE
  • To find out more about harm reduction and vaping, click HERE
  • To find out more about increasing mass media, click HERE
  • To find out more about increasing community-led initiatives, click HERE

  • The Smokefree 2025 goal is that less than 5% of all adults smoke daily by 2025.
  • Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Aotearoa New Zealand - there are almost 5,000 deaths each year (14 deaths every day).
  • Since 2000, cigarette smoking has caused approximately 100,000 deaths.
  • Around 1 in 10 adults smoke cigarettes daily, but this rises to 1 in 4 among Māori.
  • On average, cigarette smokers consume 10 cigarettes a day (costing $6,500 a year).
  • 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: 2/3rds of all smokers are the poorest 40% of New Zealanders..
  • Cigarette smoking is a key driver of inequality. The most wealthy group of people have already reached the Smokefree 2025 goal. The poorest cigarette smokers are caught in a cycle of poverty.
  • The Government receives $2 billion in revenue from taxes on cigarettes;  The poorest 40% of New Zealanders pay 66% of the tax.

 About ASH NZ

ASH NZ - Action for Smokefree 2025, is an independent NGO advocating for evidence based, ethical and effective actions to achieve Smokefree 2025 and reduce the preventable burden of premature death and disease caused by cigarette smoking.

To find out more:  www.ash.org.nz

Further comment

Emeritus Professor, Robert Beaglehole 021 024 98065
Deborah Hart 021 379 344; [email protected]