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Lobbyists say too many Kiwis still smoking

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/12/2016

Anti-smoking campaigners say the latest survey into New Zealander's smoking habits show progress towards a smoke free country by 2025 is too slow.

Action on Smoking and Health New Zealand said the government's Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 campaign aimed to have fewer than 5 per cent of adult Kiwis smoking regularly.

However, the 2015/16 New Zealand Health Survey, released on Friday, revealed 14.2 per cent or 532,000 adult New Zealanders still smoked daily.

172,000 of these were Maori and 51,000 Pacific people.

"These figures show only a very small improvement overall over the last few years, but no improvement for Maori and Pacific people," ASH said in a statement.

"Although the tobacco industry may be thrilled by this slow progress ... the new Bill English government has an opportunity to see this as a warning bell and take urgent action."

ASH called for the prime minister to continue emphasising the importance of the 2025 Smokefree goal by retaining oversight of it.

Maori public health group Hapai Te Hauora also said progress was too slow.

It said to stay on track to meet the 2025 goal, 58,000 smokers would have to quit daily smoking by 2018, including 27,000 Maori and 8000 Pacific people.

However, there was less than 1 per cent fewer daily and monthly smokers this year compared to last, while there had been no reduction in Maori smoking rates.

The Ministry of Health's 2015/16 survey results come as Government and university researchers studying the 2013 NZ Census also released their findings on Friday.

They found 15.1 per cent or around one in seven Kiwis over the age of 15 smoked one or more cigarette per day in 2013, which was down from the 22.5 per cent of Kiwis who smoked in 2006.

The drop in smokers was also greater between 2006 and 2013 than in the decade before from 1996 to 2006.

Researchers from the Health Promotion Agency, University of Otago and University of Canterbury said their findings suggested the decline in smoking was accelerating.

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