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What are our smoking rates and how are they changing?
Smoking rates in Aotearoa New Zealand continue to decrease. Currently, an estimated 8% of adults are daily smokers (331,000 people) and 9.2% of adults are current smokers (380,000 people) 27
Although 331,000 adults in Aotearoa still smoke daily, over 1,114,000 have given up smoking.27 Most adults (65%) have never smoked regularly. 28
Daily smoking rates in Aotearoa 2021/22 were:
|Adult smokers (15+)||8% 27 (down from 9.4% the previous year29 and 16.4% in 2011/12 30)
- Smoking rates among all adult women were 7.3% and among all adult men were 8.6% 27
|Young adults 18-24||8.2% 27 (down from 25% in 2006/07 29 and 13.1% in 2019/20 30)|
19.9% 27 (down from 39% in 2006/07 29 and 28.6% in 2019/20 30)
- Smoking rates among Māori women were 18.2% and among Māori men were 21.8%
18.2% 27 (25% in 2006/07 29 and 20.2% in 2017/18 30)
- Smoking rates among Pacific women were 19.2% and among Pacific men were 16.9%
|European and other||
7.2% 27 (14.7% in 2011/12 29 and 10.1% in 2019/20 30)
- Smoking rates among European/Other women were 6.2% and among European/Other men were 8.3%
2.6% 27 (7.9% in 2011/12 29 and 7.4% in 2019/20 30)
- Smoking rates among Asian women were 1.5% and among Asian men were 3.7%
|Adults 15+ years (currently smoking)||33||32||30||30||30||29||26.5||27.8||25.8||27||27||27||27||26||26||25||26||25||25||25||25||22.8||23.7||20.1||20||21||19.7||19.7||18.2||17.7||17.4||16.6||16.3||15.7||14.9||14.2||13.4||10.9|
|Year 10 students (regular smoking)||28.6||27.9||24.8||22.1||20.7||17.6||16.8||14.2||12.8||11.9||10.9||10||8.2||7.7||6.8||6.1||5.4||4.7||4.9||5||5.9|
Did you know that in 2021/22?27, 28
- 45-64 year olds were the age group with the highest smoking rate at 9.9%
- 20.2% (among daily smokers and recent quitters) have quit smoking in the last 12 months - that's 84,000 adults
- By gender and ethnicity, Māori men had the highest smoking rate at 21.8%, followed by Māori women at 18.2%
- The most marked inequities in smoking were by socioeconomic status. After adjusting for age, sex and ethnicity, adults living in the most deprived areas were 4.3 times as likely as adults in the least deprived areas to be daily smokers
Māori were 2.9 times as likely to be current smokers, and Pacific peoples were 3 times as likely to be current smokers than their non-Māori and non-Pacific counterparts, after adjusting for age and gender.
And people are smoking less.
Between 2010 and 2018 the amount of tobacco smoked per person decreased by 39%. According to the 2018 Census, the average adult (over the age of 15 years) now smokes an average of 586 cigarettes a year.28
Smoking by priority population groups
Although smoking rates continue to drop, inequities remain. Smoking rates among Māori and Pacific peoples are higher than rates in other ethnicites. 27
Pre-colonisation, Māori did not smoke. However, when tobacco was introduced to Aotearoa in the 18th century, that changed quickly. Smoking has been particularly damaging for Māori, who have higher smoking rates and higher rates of death and tobacco-related illness than non-Māori.
- Daily smoking rates for Māori adults in 2021/22 were 19.9% (121,000 people), and current smoking rates for Māori adults were 20.9% (127,000 people). 27
- Māori were 3.4 times more likely than non-Māori to be daily smokers (adjusted for age and gender). 27
- Māori were 2.9 times more likely than non-Māori to be current smokers (adjusted for age and gender). 27
- Māori women were 3.1 times more likely to be current smokers compared to non-Māori women (adjusted for age). 27
Pacific peoples have the second highest smoking rates after Māori. They are also more likely to have negative health outcomes from smoking than the non-Pacific/non-Māori populations. 30
- Daily smoking rates for Pacific adults in 2021/22 were 18.2% (49,000 people) and current smoking rates for adults were 18.9% (51,000 people). 27
- Pacific peoples were 2.7 times more likely than non-Pacific to be daily smokers (adjusted for age and gender). 27
- Pacific peoples were 2.3 times more likely than non-Pacific to be current smokers (adjusted for age and gender). 27
- Maternal smoking rates at two weeks postnatal have decreased from 13.7% in 2009 to 9.4% in 2018 12
- Māori mothers continue to have the highest smoking rates than any other ethnicity between 2009 and 2018. However, smoking rates among Māori mothers have declined from 32.4% in 2009 to 25.0% in 2018
As young adults move out of home and establish new careers and, friends and, have new experiences, the development of a smoking habit is an area of real concern. Research says that if you can make it to 25 years-old without starting, you will likely never smoke. However too many young adults are being caught in the addictive cycle of smoking. Young adults often minimise the risks and addictiveness of tobacco. 17
- Daily smoking rates for 18-24 year olds in 2021/22 were 8.2% (37,000 people). 27
- Current smoking rates for 18-24 year olds in 2021/22 were 10.5% (48,000 people). 27
Preventing tobacco use among youth is critical.
Daily smoking rates in Year 10 students (14 -15 year olds) in 2022 were 1.1%. 31 This is at an all-time low and is down from 15.2% when the ASH Year 10 survey began in 2000.
Risk factors for starting smoking
Everyone should be aware of the risk factors that contribute to young people experimenting with tobacco and starting to smoke regularly. Consider some of the factors below and what you can do to support smokefree youth:
The social and physical environment:35, 36
- media and social influences
- having friends who smoke
- having parents who smoke and/or allow smoking in the house
- the family environment – attitudes towards smoking and parenting style
- the school environment and how they create and support smokefree environments
- being able to access cigarettes and tobacco – particularly from family or friends
- being able to afford to buy cigarettes and tobacco
- low self-esteem
- taking part in risk-taking behaviours.
Young people less likely to smoke if they: 36
- are doing well at school
- have future aspirations
- take part in community activities or sports clubs
- belong to a religion or have a spiritual practice
- are connected with their family.
Smoking prevalence from the ASH Year 10 Survey38 (of 14 and 15 year-olds) found that in 2022:
- There was a statiscally signficant decrease in regular smoking rates for Māori (9.3% in 2021 to 6.3% in 2022), Pacific peoples (5.3% to 2.6%) and European/Pakeha particpants (3% to 2.3%)
Where to find more information
- The Kupe data explorer provides access to Health and Lifestyles Survey data about New Zealanders' views and experiences across several topics including tobacco. Results are available up to 2020.
- The Tobacco Control Data Repository has all New Zealand’s tobacco data in one location.
- The Ministry of Health 2021/22: New Zealand Health Survey has information about tobacco use by adults over the age of 15 years, across different population groups (age, sex, ethnicity and neighbourhood deprivation); as do many other MOH reports.
Daily smoker (aged 15+ years): has smoked more than 100 cigarettes in lifetime and currently smokes at least once a day
Current smoker (aged 15+ years): has smoked more than 100 cigarettes in lifetime and currently smokes at least once a month