The number of New Zealanders who smoke is declining, but just over 16% of us continue to light up.
There are direct social and economic benefits from giving up. These include saving $177 a week or $9,200 a year for someone who smokes a pack a day, and having another decade (on average) of life to spend with family and friends.
According to figures gathered by the New Zealand Health Survey (2015/16), the number of us who smoke is declining. However, a sixth of the population aged over 15 still use tobacco and among some population groups that’s much higher.
- In total, 16.3% of all New Zealanders aged over 15 years currently smoke – around 610,000 people.
- The number of New Zealanders smoking is continuing to decline – 25% of us smoked in 1996/97.
- Smoking is highest among Māori (38.6%) and Pacific peoples (25.5%).
- The biggest group of people who smoke are aged 25-34 (23%) and 18-24 (22.7%).
- Most smokers try to quit, with 64% saying they tried in 2012/13 and 58% of them quit for at least a week.
- An estimated 11% (82,000) of people who tried to stop smoking successfully quit in 2012/13 (this has increased from 8% in 2006).
- Those in the most socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods are three times more likely to smoke than those in the least deprived.
- Children are more than six times more likely to smoke if one or both of their parents smoke compared to if neither of their parents smoke.
- The average age of uptake (more regular smoking behaviours) varies across the four main ethnic groups, with Māori starting at about 17 years old, European/Pakeha around 17.5 years old, Pasifika just over 19, and Asians at about 22 years old.
Looking for more information? See New Zealand's tobacco-use data in one location in the Tobacco Control Data Repository