Smoking and vaping

According to the New Zealand Health Survey, smoking rates are continuing to decline. In 2011/2012, the rate of daily smoking among New Zealanders aged 15 years or over was 16.4%, but that dropped to 8.6% in 2021/2022, and fell again, to 6.8%, in 2022/23. One probable reason for this decrease is the high price of cigarettes in New Zealand. The cost of a packet of cigarettes rises every year, as part of the government’s efforts to reduce smoking rates. The current price of a pack of 20 cigarettes is between $34 and $45. Other likely reasons for the decline in smoking rates include the creation of programmes which help people quit smoking, and an almost complete ban on tobacco advertising.

The previous government passed a law to create a smokefree generation of New Zealanders. This law banned the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 1 January 2009, reduced the number of outlets able to sell tobacco from 6000 to 600, and removed 95 percent of nicotine from cigarettes. However, on 28 February the new government scrapped this law, because it would reduce income from taxes on cigarettes, and the government needs that income to fund tax cuts. Health experts are very disappointed with this change, but the Health Minister says the government is still focussed on reducing smoking rates, although it wants a different approach to achieve that goal.

Vaping is used as an alternative to cigarettes to help people stop smoking. However, there are now concerns about the number of young people who have never smoked but who regularly use vapes. The New Zealand Health survey data shows that the daily vaping rate of teenagers aged between 15 and 17 years old has almost doubled from 8.3% in 2021/2022 to 15.4% in 2022/2023. In March the government announced that single-use vapes will be banned by the end of 2024, as part of a plan to reduce youth vaping.  Other measures in the plan include higher fines, of up to $100,000, for selling vapes to under 18-year-olds. The requirement for reusable vapes to have removable batteries and other ways to stop children using them was going to come into effect in March, but this has been delayed until October. The government said they needed more time to check some aspects of this requirement, but critics say that the government is not acting fast enough to protect children.


quit – to stop doing something

outlets – in this context, places which could sell cigarettes, such as supermarkets and dairies

vapes – e-cigarettes

come into effect – if a law or rule comes into effect, it officially starts