Smoking among teenage students is currently at its lowest level on record in New Zealand, with just 1.9% of Year 10 students smoking on a daily basis, new research has revealed.
Action for Smokefree 2025, otherwise known as ASH, surveyed nearly 29,000 Year 10 students on their behaviours and attitudes towards smoking as part of their 2018 Year 10 Snapshot report.
"This is the first time the rate has fallen below 2%. That's a dramatic drop from the 15.2% of students 20 years ago who said they smoked on a daily basis," Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said in a statement.
It also found that more than 81% of respondents "haven’t smoked at all – not even a few puffs".
ASH's findings were announced by Ms Salesa during a speech at the Vaping Policy Forum in Parliament today.
"The latest findings show the Government is making progress towards our Smokefree 2025 goal and delivering on our plan to build healthier communities and improve wellbeing.
However, Ms Salesa noted there is still more work to do to "achieve equity amongst all New Zealand teenagers".
"Almost 6% of Māori girls who took part in the survey tell us they smoke daily and while that rate has decreased, it’s still higher than the overall rate of 1.9%.
"That needs to change and the gaps need to close. The Government is absolutely committed to doing as much as it can to achieve our Smokefree 2025 goal."
The report also saw a decrease in teenagers vaping, particularly among students who smoke. It also found that there is "still no evidence to suggest vaping is a gateway to cigarette smoking", she said, with .5% of students who have never smoked vaping daily, dropping from .8% in 2017.
It comes after Ms Salesa announced amendments to the Smoke-free Environments Act, the banning of smoking in vehicles carrying children, and encouraging smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives.
A draft action plan to help achieve New Zealand's Smokefree 2025 goal will be made available for public consultation by the end of the year.