Tobacco control

The Ministry of Health has been the key agency for policy development in the tobacco control area and is involved in a large number of policy, service development and operational aspects of tobacco control.

Photo of a family on the beach, walking towards the rising sun.

The Ministry continually strives to ensure that its tobacco control activities are compatible with the international best practice in tobacco control as well as with its obligations under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The three key objectives of tobacco control activities in New Zealand are:

  1. Fact: The New Zealand youth smoking rate dropped from 14 percent to 6 percent in the past five years.
    to reduce smoking initiation
  2. to increase quitting
  3. to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

Tobacco is addictive

Addiction is a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behaviour or substance. A sign someone is addicted is if they give up social activities, such as going to a smokefree restaurant, in order to smoke.

Nicotine is an addictive chemical that when inhaled through a cigarette creates pleasant feelings by creating the brain chemical dopamine. These pleasant feelings only last for a few minutes, making the person want to have another cigarette. Nicotine also speeds up the person’s heart rate and increases their blood pressure.

Cigarette being stubbed out. In a statement regarding tobacco companies, Hon Tariana Turia made this comment:

‘Make no mistake tobacco is a highly addictive substance that is claiming the lives of approximately 5000 New Zealanders every year and that alone should horrify tobacco companies.’
– Hon Tariana Turia, statement on the Beehive website.

In this section

  • New Zealand has been at the forefront of tobacco control internationally for some time and has made steady progress in reducing smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption. Smoking rates continue to decrease with 18 percent of adults current smokers in 2011/12, down from 20 percent in 2006/07. Read more
  • The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is an evidence-based treaty that was developed in response to the global tobacco epidemic and which reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. This page includes a link to the full treaty text. Read more
  • The Pathway to Smokefree New Zealand 2025 Innovation Fund was established to invest in the design, development, promotion and delivery of innovative efforts to reduce the harm and wider costs of smoking through a supportive and comprehensive public health environment approach. Read more
  • In March 2011 the Government adopted the Smokefree 2025 goal for New Zealand. This was in response to the recommendations of a landmark Parliamentary inquiry by the Māori Affairs select committee. Read more
  • Smokefree legislation affects schools, early childhood centres, retailers, licensed premises, sports clubs and all employers. Find out about smokefree law and how it applies to you. Read more
  • The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Products and Packaging) Amendment Bill had its first reading in February 2014. This billl aims to put tobacco products into plain packaging, and thereforce to reduce the attractiveness of smoking, especially to children. Read more
  • Annual Tobacco Returns filed by manufacturers and importers pursuant to section 35 of the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 which provides guidance on the form for returns and reports.  Read more
  • There is not enough evidence to be able to recommend e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking Read more
  • Publications relating to tobacco control and smokefree law in New Zealand. Read more