Up-to-date stats and data

Why is tobacco control so important?

The evidence is very clear that tobacco is harmful. Here are the up to date stats on why tobacco control is so important:

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand 
  • Tobacco is the only legal product that kills half of its long term users when used as it is intended
  • About 5,000 New Zealanders die every year from smoking related diseases
  • Smoking is a major contributing factor to health inequalities between Māori and non-Māori
  • Almost all smokers regret starting and want to quit - most of New Zealand’s smokers (83%) regret they started smoking. This is the same regardless of ethnicity and socio-economic status
  • Smoking and non-smoking parents do not want their children to start smoking
  • The New Zealand government has a Smokefree 2025 goal – there will be 5% or less of New Zealanders who smoke by the year 2025
  • Smoking is a childhood addiction
  • Almost everyone begins smoking before they become adult, and addiction may develop very quickly, sometimes within 4 weeks or before 100 cigarettes have been smoked
  • About 4,000 children (less than 18 years old) start smoking each year in New Zealand
  • Most 15-19 year old smokers say they would not smoke if they had their lives over (72%)

Smoking Rates – 2013 census

 Smoking Rates - 2013 census

More data and graphs are available on the Statistics New Zealand website.

The 2013 Census identified that:

  • the overall smoking rate for New Zealand is 15%, down from 20% in 2006
  • Māori:
    • More Māori smoke compared to any other ethnic group in New Zealand. It is also more common in areas with a significant Māori population and in low socio-economic areas
    • 33% of Māori identify as being regular smokers – more than double the smoking rates of European and Asian ethnic groups 
    • tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death for Māori in New Zealand – every year approximately three times as many Māori die from lung cancer and other smoking related diseases as non-Māori
  • Pacific People:
    • The adult regular smoking rate for Pacific people living in New Zealand is 23%
Graph of regular smokers

  • Asian:
    • The adult regular smoking rate for the Asian population in New Zealand is 7.6%
    • Regular smoking is more common among Asian men than women; approximately four times as many Asian men smoke regularly compared to women (13% vs 3%)

 Graph of regular smokers



Smokefree 2025