Results from the 2016 ASH year 10 survey released today show that only 2.2 percent of year ten students smoke daily. The lowest smoking rates recorded since 1999 when 15.2 percent of students smoked daily.
At the same time, the number of students who have never even taken a puff of a cigarette has increased to nearly 80%. An increase from only 55% a decade ago.
The survey included over 25,000 year 10 students. The largest survey of its kind in New Zealand. ASH is releasing the new numbers as students throughout the country return to school after the summer break.
ASH Programme Manager, Boyd Broughton said: ‘The decline in smoking for year ten students in one of the big success stories of the smokefree movement in New Zealand. Rates have dropped by two thirds in under a decade’.
‘We are releasing the results as kids return to school because much of this success has been down to the hard work and commitment of schools to being smokefree. Kids are highly influenced by the environment around them, especially what their peers and parents do. Schools are doing a great job fostering smokefree environments and contributing to the decline in year 10 smoking”.
Whilst the overall smoking rates were at record lows for all young people, there still remains some inequities across groups.
Maori students were more than 5 times more likely to report smoking than European students. 5.9 percent smoked daily compared to 1 percent of European students.
Broughton said: ‘Young Māori have always been seen as rangatira mō āpōpō (leaders for tomorrow), this is especially so as we move towards a smoke-free 2025. Our pakeke (parents) are crucial role models. Year in, year out, young people have been showing via this research that they get it. It’s now time for our parents to support their ambition to live smokefree. Being auahi kore is the best thing they can do for their own future and a smokefree future for our young Māori.’
The challenge is to ensure that young people stay smokefree as they get older. ASH urges the new government to make this priority. We need to keep up the momentum with a clear national plan for Smokefree 2025 that New Zealand can get behind.