30 November 2022
Youth daily smoking rates have continued to stay at a record low in New Zealand, with only 1.1% of Year 10 students (14-15 years of age) in the annual ASH survey saying they smoke at least once a day. That amounts to around only 700 students across the motu.
ASH Director Ben Youdan says, “We are delighted that Year 10 students continue to set the example by being a smokefree generation, meeting the 2025 goal of less than 5% daily smoking (95% smokefree).”
The survey found that daily rates for all ethnicities and genders remained low and similar to last year, but in particular there was a significant and continued decrease for Pacific teenagers, and they are now at similar levels to their Asian and European/Pākehā counterparts.
ASH board member Sir Collin Tukuitonga says, “It is hugely encouraging that only 1.2% of Pacific Year 10 students are smoking daily, the lowest rate ever recorded, and about a third of what it was only 5 years ago.“
ASH is also encouraged to find that more than 71% of Māori girls have never tried smoking compared to 63% last year, the biggest year on year increase in never smoking observed in more than 22 years of the survey.
Regular smoking overall for Year 10 students continues to trend down, with another substantial decrease from 4.2% last year, to 3.0% this year, which amounts to around only 1600 regular smokers nationally.
“Looking back since the first survey, there has been a 90% reduction in daily and regular smoking by Year 10 students since 1999. It’s a huge success story for Aotearoa and this momentum is also occurring with adults which makes SF2025 an achievable goal,” Ben Youdan says.
When it comes to vaping, the survey has found regular vaping has bucked the upward trend. The rate has gone down for the first time in the 7 years since vape use was first included in the survey.
“Regular use” is defined as participants that vape (or smoke) daily, weekly, or monthly. The Year 10 rates are showing some significant decreases from last year’s peak of 20.2%, going down to 18.2% this year.
Ben Youdan says, “This first downturn in regular vaping suggests that government regulations are starting to work. This is the first full survey conducted after measures to restrict access, regulate nicotine content, and end vape advertising, came into force.“
Daily vaping rates have plateaued with only a slight increase from 9.6% in 2021, to 10.1% this year, but there have been significant rises for Māori and in particular Māori girls. Māori students went from 19.1% last year to 21.7%, and for Māori girls it rose from 21.3% to 25.2% this year.
ASH board member and frontline smoking cessation practitioner Rebecca Ruwhiu-Collins says, “The smoking rate for Year 10 Māori girls continues to fall which is great news, and fewer are trying vaping, or vaping regularly. However, we are still seeing much higher rates of daily vaping in Māori than non-Māori. It reinforces the need to get the right balance between preventing uptake, and supporting young people who vape daily to quit vapes.”
This year 29,538 students from 321 schools from across the country took part in the 23rd ASH Year 10 Survey.
The survey is one of the largest and longest running surveys of youth tobacco and vaping behaviors and attitudes in the world, and the largest smoking survey in Aotearoa after the Census. It has run annually since 1999, with the exception of 2020, which was cancelled because of COVID-19. In 1999 it found 15.6% of Year 10 students smoked cigarettes daily.
Since 1999 more than 660,000 year ten students have answered questions on smoking, and more than 210,000 have answered questions on vaping since it was first included in the survey in 2014.
The release comes as the Government looks to pass the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill by mid-December. ASH supports this legislation but continues to urge the Government to also urgently deliver the non-legislative measures in their Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan to empower communities, increase quitting and encourage smokers to switch to less harmful, and cheaper, alternatives.
Notes for editors:
· The ASH Year 10 Survey findings are consistent with the 2021 New Zealand Health Survey, the Health and Lifestyles Survey and Youth 19 Survey.
· The ASH Year 10 Survey uses robust and validated measures. It is conducted to a high methodological standard that has been subject to peer review and ethics approval. It is funded through Te Hiringa Hauora by the Ministry of Health.
· The 2022 Survey is based on questionnaires from 60% of New Zealand’s high schools.
· Schools that participate are given valuable data to help them deal with youth smoking and vaping in their school.
· 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.
· 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 latest evidence update by the UK Office for Health Improvement in 2022, reviewed evidence continues to support the claim that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. It poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking.
· Vaping is a harm reduction tool for those who are smoking. It is helping thousands of New Zealanders to stop smoking.
· This does not mean vaping is risk free, particularly for young people and those who have never smoked. They should not start.
For more comment or questions please don’t hesitate in contacting us:
ASH Director Ben Youdan – 021 247 3027
ASH Chair Professor Robert Beaglehole – 021 024 98065
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