Defence Force to be smokefree by 2020

The Defence Force has announced it's going to war, and the enemy is cigarettes. 

Soldiers have three years to kick the habit, in a mission which seeks to make New Zealand's Defence Force Smokefree by 2020. 

It would be the biggest Government department and one of the country's biggest employers to go smokefree, and the first military in the world.

"We are very pleased to be the first military and I think it's a testament to us as New Zealanders to take on the challenge," Commander Karen Ward says.

There are 14,500 people in the Defence Force and around 12 percent of them are smokers. That means around 1700 people need to quit.

The Defence Force target is part of the Government's plan to make the entire country Smokefree by 2025.

The Air Force initiated the move by announcing the smokefree goal, which was then adopted by the Army and Navy.

But it hasn't gotten all thumbs up.

"This is the kind of Government that would send someone to die but not give them the opportunity to have a smoke before that happens," New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says.

Meanwhile Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox welcomes the move, and hopes it will spread across the public sector.

"I think throw the challenge down to other Government departments actually."

It's not just cigarettes and tobacco in the firing line - E-cigarettes or vaping will also be banned. And if you live in a Defence Force house, that'll be smokefree too.