Tobacco control – New Zealand context

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.

On this page:

New Zealand's Tobacco Control Programme

The attached reports provide an overview of New Zealand's tobacco control programme and discuss both the effectiveness of the programme and value for money evidence. The reports indicate that New Zealand’s tobacco control programme is comprehensive, evidence-based and designed on international best practice and that tobacco control interventions are cost effective and provide excellent value for money. The tobacco control programme continues to evolve to ensure best value for money and effectiveness in reducing death and disease caused by smoking.

Smoking prevalence

Every cigarette you smoke is harming nearly every organ and system in your body. While smoking prevalence in New Zealand has declined over time, more than 650,000 New Zealanders, or just under one fifth (18%) of the adult population still smoke on a regular basis.

For more information please refer to Section 2: Health behaviours and risk factors in the publication: The Health of New Zealand Adults 2011/12 – Key findings of the New Zealand Health Survey.

Better help for smokers to quit

The Ministry’s health target Better help for smokers to quit is a driver towards the aspirational goal of Smokefree 2025.

This target is designed to prompt health providers to routinely ask about smoking status as a clinical ‘vital sign’ and then to provide brief advice and offer quit support to current smokers. There is strong evidence that brief advice is effective at prompting quit attempts and long-term quit success.

Key dates in the history of tobacco in New Zealand

1948: The Department of Health produced the first posters in New Zealand linking cancer with smoking.

1963: Cigarette advertising on New Zealand television and radio banned by broadcasting authorities in response to the Medical Association’s call for a ban on advertising.

1964: Release of the US Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health linked smoking to heart disease, other kinds of cancer, and many other health problems.

1974: First health warning on cigarette packets.

1984: Māori men and women had highest rates of lung cancer in the world. First Government tobacco control programme begun.

1987: New, varied and strong health warnings linking smoking to heart and lung disease appear on the front and back of cigarette packets sold in New Zealand. Strong public support for restrictions on smoking at work and indoors in public.

2004: All licensed premises (bars, restaurants, cafes, sports clubs, casinos) and other workplaces (including offices, factories, warehouses, work canteens and ‘smoko’ rooms) become smokefree indoors in New Zealand.

2011: Following the Māori Affairs Select Committee process in 2010, the New Zealand Government responded with a goal of a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

Back to top