Smokefree background information

Read the background information including the tobacco tax excise evaluation and the history of tobacco packaging and warnings.

Tobacco excise tax evaluation

Between 2010 and 2020 New Zealand implemented a series of annual 10% excise increases on tobacco.

In 2018, Manatū Hauora contracted EY (Ernst & Young) to conduct the ‘Evaluation of the tobacco excise increases as a contributor to Smokefree 2025’. This evaluation was to understand the impact of the policy on reducing tobacco consumption and smoking and to help inform the future direction of polices which use price as a lever to reduce the harm from tobacco. Manatū Hauora also wanted to understand any unintended consequences of tobacco price increases, such as on crime (robberies and illicit trade), as well as the financial impact on smokers and their families.

Tobacco packaging warnings

The 14 graphic pictorial health warnings, comprising graphic images and explanatory messages, cover the front and back of the cigarette packets.

Cigarette packets also carry the Quitline logo and freephone number and other information about quitting smoking. A rotation system has been developed to optimise consumer learning and awareness of the health effects of smoking. Seven images will be rotated each year.

Manufacturers may download high-resolution copies of the photographs if needed for packaging, titled as they are as listed in Schedule 2, Part 1 of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Regulations 2021.

Warning: the images are graphic in nature.

History of tobacco standardised packaging

About the regulatory changes that took effect from 14 March 2018 and links to relevant documents.

The timeline to standardised packaging


  • April - Decision by the Government to agree in principle to introduce a plain packaging regime in alignment with Australia once the outcome of a public consultation process was known.
  • 5 October 2012 - consultation closed


  • February - Cabinet considered a report on the consultation.
  • Government decided to proceed with legislation
  • December -  the bill was lodged see statement on Beehive website


Background documents

Information not related to plain packaging has been removed from these documents.

Some information has been withheld under Official Information Act provisions. Where this has occurred it is noted in the papers next to the redaction.

Further information

Select Committee Report - Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Māori

In this section

  • The Ministry of Health has selected an evaluation provider to undertake an 'Evaluation of the tobacco excise increases as a contributor to Smokefree 2025'. Read more
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