Teen smoking rate hits all-time low

Only one-in-five year 10s said they had ever smoked.
Only one-in-five year 10s said they had ever smoked. Photo credit: File

For the first time, the smoking rate for year 10 students has fallen below 2 percent.

But for Māori, it's just over 5 percent - and even higher for young Māori girls, at 6 percent - according to the latest research from anti-smoking group ASH.

"This is the first time the rate has fallen below 2 percent," said Jenny Salesa, Associate Health Minister. "That's a dramatic drop from the 15.2 percent of students 20 years ago who said they smoked on a daily basis."

Only one-in-five year 10s - 14- and 15-year-olds - said they had ever smoked.

"This is really good news, but we still have more work to do to achieve equity amongst all New Zealand teenagers,' said Salesa.

While only 1.9 percent of teens smoke daily, Mihi Blair of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service says some areas need more focus.

"In particular Māori and Pasifika communities. We know there is more tobacco sold in those communities than any other, so we need to look at the supply of tobacco in those communities."

Blair says current measures to crack down haven't been as effective for Māori.

"In particular Māori women. One of the focuses that we're encouraging is to put good investment into Māori women and provide them best services and best care."

The Government's long-term plan, surviving across both National and Labour-led administrations, has been to wipe out smoking by 2025.