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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Use Data Explorer provides survey results on the following topics: smoking prevalence, types of tobacco products smoked, reasons for smoking roll-your-own cigarettes, initiation and uptake of smoking, smoking cessation behaviour, electronic cigarette use, smoking in pregnancy and exposure to second-hand smoke.

The results come from a tobacco and electronic cigarette use module in the 2015/16 New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) which was completed by 13,781 adults aged 15 years and over. The parents or caregivers of 4,721 children aged fourteen and under answered questions on exposure to second-hand smoke. The questions were administered by trained interviewers.

This sample consisted of 2,770 Māori, 838 Pacific, 1,236 Asian and 10,435 European/Other respondents. Adults who reported more than one ethnic group were counted once in each group reported. This means that the total number of responses for all ethnic groups is greater than the total number of adults who stated their ethnicities.

The results are available by gender, age group, ethnic group and neighbourhood deprivation. Time trends data is available for some indicators.

View the Tobacco and E-cigarette Use Data Explorer.

Published data can be downloaded from the Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Use Data Explorer as a .csv file.

If you have any queries please email healthsurvey@health.govt.nz

Go to the Ministry’s Tobacco Control webpage to find out what’s being done in the tobacco control area.


Overview of findings

This overview of findings covers tobacco and electronic cigarette use results from the 2015/16 NZHS as well as time trends from the NZHS for 2006/07 to 2018/19.  Relevant findings from the 2012/13 NZHS tobacco use module are also included.   

Smoking initiation and uptake

  • Data on smoking initiation (age when an individual first tries a cigarette) and uptake (age when an individual starts smoking daily) were collected in the 2012/13 and 2015/16 tobacco use modules.
  • For those aged 20–24 years of age at the time of the survey, the average age of smoking initiation did not change significantly between 2012/13 (13.9 years) and 2015/16 (14.3 years).
  • The average age of smoking uptake increased significantly between 2012/13 (16.2 years) and 2015/16 (17.0 years). However, for Māori, there was no change in the average age of smoking uptake between 2012/13 (15.7 years) and 2015/16 (16.0 years). 

Roll-your-own (RYO) use

  • In 2015/16, there was a high prevalence of RYO tobacco use (53.7%) among smokers in New Zealand, particularly among Māori (69.2%), people living in most deprived neighbourhoods (63.9%) and young people aged 15–19 (79.4%).
  • The most common reasons given for smoking RYO tobacco were that it costs less (62.9%), the pouch lasts longer (50.7%), they taste better (34.8%) and you can roll them thinner (30.1%).

Smoking cessation

  • In 2015/16, 47.1 percent of daily smokers had made one or more quit attempts in the past year. Similar numbers of men and women made quit attempts.
  • There was no significant difference between Māori and non-Māori in terms of the number who made one or more quit attempts in the past year, however, Māori were less than half as likely to successfully quit (defined as having quit for a month or more).
  • People in more deprived neighbourhoods were less than half as likely to successfully quit than those in less deprived neighbourhoods.

Electronic cigarettes

  • In 2018/19, 21.2 percent of adults had tried an electronic cigarette, even just a puff or ‘vape’, up from 18.5 percent in 2017/18 and 16.2 percent in 2015/16. 
  • 43.2 percent of Māori adults had tried an electronic cigarette. After adjusting for age and gender, Māori were nearly twice as likely as non-Māori to have tried an electronic cigarette.

The following findings on electronic cigarette use from the 2015/16 NZHS are the most recent available:

  • 6.3 percent of those who had never smoked had tried an electronic cigarette. 
  • 8.5 percent of smokers who had tried to quit in the last year used electronic cigarettes in their last quit attempt.
  • 76 percent of people who used electronic cigarettes daily were using nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes.
  • The most common reasons given for using electronic cigarettes among daily users were that they are healthier (50.1%) and cheaper (39.6%) than smoking, and to help quit (49.6%) or reduce (33.3%) smoking.

Second hand smoke (SHS)

  • In 2015/16, 3.2 percent of non-smoking adults reported that they were exposed to SHS inside their house and 2.6 percent in the car they usually travelled in.
  • 3.2 percent of children aged less than 15 years were exposed to SHS in the home and 3.9 percent in the car they usually travelled in.
  • For both adults and children, exposure to SHS was highest amongst Māori and Pacific peoples, and people living in the most deprived neighbourhoods.
  • Exposure to SHS in the home and cars among adults and children reduced substantially between 2006/07 and 2012/13, but the changes were less between 2012/13 and 2015/16, particularly for SHS exposure in the home.

Smoking in pregnancy

  • In 2012/13, smoking among pregnant Māori women (46.5%) was much higher than for pregnant non-Māori women (12.3%).  

Smoking prevalence and progress to Smokefree 2025

In March 2011, the Government introduced the ‘Smokefree 2025’ goal to reduce smoking prevalence to less than five percent by 2025. Interim targets were set to reduce the daily smoking prevalence to 10 percent, and Māori and Pacific rates to halve from their 2011 levels by 2018.

Four NZHS indicators can be used to assess how New Zealand is progressing towards the Smokefree 2025 goal, by comparing data from 2011/12 to 2018/19.

  • Daily smoking was 16.3 percent in 2011/12, dropping to 14.2 percent in 2015/16 and 12.5 percent in 2018/19. The decrease in daily smoking in Māori from 2011/12 (37.7%) to 2018/19 (30.9%) was greater than that for the total population.
  • The prevalence of heavy smokers (≥ 21 per day) amongst daily smokers reduced from 9.6 percent in 2011/12 to 6.8 percent in 2018/19.
  • The mean number of cigarettes smoked per day among daily smokers dropped from 11.2 per day in 2011/12 to 10.0 per day in 2018/19.
  • The quit rate (proportion of smokers quitting in the last year) stayed stable from 2011/12 (11.5%) to 2018/19 (11.9%).

The first three of these indicators can be found under the ‘Smoking status’ topic in the Data Explorer, while the ‘quit rate’ can be found under the ‘Smoking cessation’ topic.

  • All of the progress indicators improved between 2011/12 (largely before the adoption of the goal) and 2018/19 (after adoption of the goal), except the quit rate, which remained stable. Among daily smokers, the prevalence of heavy smokers and the mean number of cigarettes smoked per day improved at a slightly greater annual rate after the adoption of the goal than in the period before the goal.
  • However, the Government’s mid-term targets were not met. In 2018/19:
  • the daily smoking prevalence was 12.5 percent, above the 10 percent goal
  • the daily smoking prevalence for Māori (30.9%) and Pacific peoples (21.4%) were both well above the mid-term targets of 19 percent and 12 percent respectively.

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