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Whakatūpato: He nikotīni kei roto i tēnei mea, he matū tino whakawara

SmokeFree 2025 New Zealand

In 2011, the government established a long term goal that could essentially make New Zealand a smoke free country by 2025.

But why now?

New Zealand has actually been at war with smoking for a long time!

Here’s a brief recollection of events that have transpired over five decades, covering the declaration of war against smoking, aggressive campaigns to loosen tobacco’s hold on NZ’s youth, the paradigm shift of being pushed to seek alternatives to smoking and the small victories won and accumulated over the years.

TV and Radio advertising of Tobacco products banned.

Understanding the power of mass media and its ability to influence people’s perspective on products advertised, an advertising ban was imposed to reduce the number of people mislead into purchasing tobacco products after deeming it “hip or cool”.

Ten years later, in 1974​, after intensive studies, the first health warning was issued.

Almost a decade later, in 1985​, the first of many substantial tax increases was imposed.

More restrictive rules were put in place when, five years later, most indoor workplaces were declared smokefree.

Between 1985 and 1995, tobacco companies lobbied for lighter restrictions. They weren’t able to secure a win even though they put a concentrated effort into getting more of their products into the market. In 1995​, Tobacco sponsorship ended.

As Tobacco products and companies took on a more negative image, companies became wary of being connected to cigarettes and their negative effects in any way.

Understanding the need to assist people trying to kick the habit of smoking, Quitline was established in 1999. People could call in and ask for help and they would get it. Tobacco sales and tobacco related deaths lessened and in the same year​, the first subsidised Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was established.

To make smoking in public even more restrictive, bars and restaurants were declared smokefree by 2004​. Designated smoking areas were established to counter the complaints many smokers expressed.

The Aukati Kalpalpa conference and smoke free symposium was held. This raised awareness about smoking and the dangers associated with it. Other topics discussed were actions that could legally curb tobacco’s spread amongst youth.

Education was also pointed out as a crucial tool to keep smoking at a minimum.

Pictorial health warnings are featured on cigarette boxes.

Tobacco taxes raised again

Maori affairs select committee report 2011.

This is when the government agreed to establish a longer term goal of reducing smoking prevalence and tobacco availability to minimal levels thereby making New Zealand essentially a smoke free nation by 2025​. Smoke free prisons also became the norm at this time. Standardized packaging of tobacco products was implemented.

Point of sales displays are banned. Limiting the display of tobacco products had a positive impact on the drive against smoking.

Duty Free Allowances reduced for the purchase of tobacco products in bulk.

To some people, all of these events may seem like an unfair move against the tobacco industry.

If these had happened to another industry, let’s say toys, there would be a massive uproar. What’s unique about this case is that although tobacco companies are providing products that are deemed dangerous, there remains a huge number of people who still buy cigarettes.

Whether they know the dangers these cigarettes pose to their health or not is out of the question. They’re still supporting an industry that continues to churn out products that have health risks and can lead to death.

The government is doing something about the tobacco situation, it’s just taking a long time for the smoke to clear.