Newly released New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) data for 2022/2023 show that smoking prevalence continues to decrease, however very substantial inequities in smoking remain. Māori continue to bear a much heavier burden of harm from smoking than non- Māori.
University of Otago researchers from ASPIRE Aotearoa say the findings reinforce the necessity of implementing the key smokefree measures included in the Smokefree Legislation, which are currently threatened with repeal. The researchers unpick the data and look at the ramifications in the latest Briefing from the Public Health Communication Centre.
The Health Survey estimates that daily smoking has reduced from 8.6 to 6.8%. An estimated 284,000 people smoke daily in Aotearoa, meaning many thousands of people will die prematurely if they continue to smoke.
The survey found substantial inequity in smoking prevalence by ethnicity with daily smoking almost three times among Māori (17.1%) compared to European/other (6.1%), and will mean health inequities due to smoking will persist for many years to come.
Co-director of ASPIRE Aotearoa Professor Richard Edwards says the evidence points to the need for the measures in the Smokefree Legislation to be implemented to accelerate the reduction in smoking prevalence, particularly for Māori. “Reducing smoking equitably will decrease the huge burden of ill health and avoidable death that people in Aotearoa continue to suffer, and eliminate the health inequities smoking imposes on Māori, as quickly as possible.”
“Smoking prevalence continues to decline, but inequities do not. Retaining the key measures New Zealand’s world-leading smokefree legislation includes will help hundreds of thousands of people to stop smoking and move us to being a smokefree nation as quickly as possible.”
Associate Professor Andrew Waa, co-director of ASPIRE, says smoking prevalence among Māori and Pacific peoples is still far too high. “Repealing the smokefree legislation means Māori will continue to suffer unacceptable levels of harm due to smoked tobacco products for many years to come.”
The NZHS is an annual nationally representative population survey that has run since 2011/12. It aims to sample around 14,000 adults aged 15 years and over.