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Kiwi Progress

New Zealand is celebrating a significant reduction in smoking rates, prompting positive commentary from Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole

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The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) is celebrating New Zealand's significant strides in reducing smoking rates, particularly among younger age groups. The latest data reveals that daily smoking is now under 4% for under 25-year-olds, marking a substantial decrease from previous years. Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole, chair of Action on Smoking New Zealand, highlighted the positive trends.

New Zealand's ambitious goal of becoming smoke-free by 2025 is well underway, with comprehensive tobacco control legislation, targeted interventions, and a focus on tobacco harm reduction products playing a crucial role”, said Nancy Loucas, executive coordinator of CAPHRA.

The success of these government interventions is evident in the reduction of daily smokers to 8%, the lowest rate since records began. Simultaneously, vaping has emerged as a popular alternative to smoking, with 8.3% of adults now vaping daily, up from 6.2% in the past year. 

Ms Loucas added: “This shift towards less harmful nicotine products is a key part of New Zealand's world-leading approach to tobacco harm reduction. The success in reducing smoking rates is a testament to public health and the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies.”

Ms Loucas explained that “these measures have positioned New Zealand as a global leader in tobacco harm reduction, setting a precedent for other nations to follow.”

Considering the World Health Organisation's recent call for tobacco-style controls on flavoured vapes, New Zealand's progress in tobacco harm reduction is even more noteworthy. 

CAPHRA applauded New Zealand's achievements and is encouraging other nations to learn from its successful strategies. The significant reduction in smoking rates, particularly among the younger generation, is a promising step towards a smoke-free future.

Nancy stated: “Governments worldwide are urged to recognise the potential of harm reduction and the importance of consumer choice in tobacco harm reduction. By adhering to these principles and ceasing the dissemination of disinformation and biased opinions, governments can enhance their effectiveness in promoting global public health and addressing the complex challenges associated with tobacco use and harm reduction.”

Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole spoke about the positive trends with Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB.

He said that according to the recent ASH Year 10 survey, youth regular vaping has decreased for the second year in a row, and daily smoking remains very low. Beaglehole emphasised that New Zealand seems to be "getting things right at last" with regard to vaping. He noted that the country is moving in the right direction, with new regulations requiring disposable vapes to have removable batteries and child safety features.

But Beaglehole also expressed concern about the nicotine limit, stating: "They have got that completely wrong. For cigarette smokers who are transferring off the most harmful product, they need the substitute to provide the nicotine that they were getting from the cigarettes. Often that will require a much higher dose than the 20mg limit now set.”

Nancy Loucas commented: “We believe that the positive trends in youth vaping rates demonstrate the effectiveness of current regulations and support the need for continued efforts to strike a balance between preventing young people from vaping and encouraging adults who smoke to switch to vaping as a way to quit smoking.

“We urge tobacco control groups to recognise the progress made in reducing youth vaping rates and to collaborate on further measures that protect young people while supporting adults who smoke in their journey to quit smoking. This includes re-evaluating the nicotine limits to ensure that they are appropriate for adults who smoke transitioning from cigarettes to vaping products.”

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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