New Zealand Smoking at All-Time Low

    Photo: Olexandr Kulichenko

    The share of people in New Zealand who smoke cigarettes daily has dropped to an all-time low of 8 percent, down from 9.4 percent this time last year, reports The New Zealand Herald, citing figures from the annual NZ Health Survey.

    The decline in smoking has been accompanied by a rise in vaping. Some 8.3 percent now use e-cigarettes daily compared with 6 percent 12 months ago.  

    And while the daily smoking rate for Maori, at 19.9 percent, remains far higher than that for the population at large, this figure, too, is down; one year ago, the Maori smoking rate stood at 22.3 percent.

    The Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) said the latest numbers are evidence that New Zealand’s tobacco harm reduction (THR) strategy is working.

    “New Zealand’s smoking rates are now half of what they were 10 years ago. In the past year alone, the number of people smoking fell by 56,000. That is amazing when you consider the extra stress on people with the pandemic and increasing cost of living,” said AVCA co-founder Nancy Loucas.

    AVCA says the government has done well making stop-smoking services more accessible and introducing tailored Maori and Pacific services.

    “Other countries have seen a rise in their smoking rates during the Covid lockdowns and restrictions, but New Zealand has once again bucked the trend. That’s because our Ministry of Health and health providers have adopted a THR strategy, transitioning smokers to vaping as a safe and incredibly effective smoking cessation tool,” said Loucas.

    “New Zealand is showing the world how to achieve smoke-free. These latest statistics are more proof that countries which adopt a THR approach to public health end up saving a lot of lives,” says Loucas.