University of Otago Wednesday 17 October 2012, 4:19PM
Results of newly published research show that there is strong
support for New Zealand becoming a tobacco-free country, including
"People recognise that achieving a smokefree Aotearoa will bring
many social benefits, in particular protecting children from
addiction and second-hand smoke", says Professor Richard Edwards
from the University of Otago's Department of Public Health.
The newly-published study used focus groups with 13 smokers and
11 non-smokers to test reactions to a tobacco-free vision, and
whether the creation of a separate agency to regulate the sale and
distribution of tobacco products would achieve this vision.
The research was conducted before the Government adopted the
Smokefree 2025 goal, and most participants, including those who
smoked, welcomed this radical and innovative idea. They believed an
agency independent of Government would be able to reduce tobacco
smoking and protect children from starting, while still respecting
individual smokers' autonomy to smoke if they wished.
" However, people recognise that the tobacco industry is
well-resourced, and has a vested interest in preventing initiatives
being implemented to achieve the vision," says Professor
He adds that the strength of feeling in support of the smokefree
goal was summed up by a Māori smoker, who challenged political
leaders to succeed: "Just don't fail. Just don't. You know, make it
work, make it happen."
These findings are supported by a second study, published in
June, which explored 44 smokers' and 3 recent quitters' reactions
to the smokefree 2025 policy goal six months after it was
announced, using interviews.
Despite recognising the personal inconvenience the goal could
cause, it was described as "really appealing." Tobacco was also
described as "something our country could do without".
Participants put forward many suggestions for ways that the
Government could support people to quit and prevent initiation, and
achieve the 2025 goal without criminalising tobacco use.
"Smokers recognise that tobacco is a dangerous and addictive
product, and thought its widespread availability is
illogical. They suggested several retail restrictions that
would reduce children's exposure to tobacco and prevent them from
seeing it as a normal consumer product," says Professor
Many endorsed the new law which has put tobacco products out of
sight in shops, and felt there were other ways that smoking
visibility should be further reduced. Participants also
suggested extending smokefree outdoor areas and thought plain
packaging would reduce tobacco's allure while still protecting
This study also showed that smokers also recommend continuing to
increase the price of tobacco to reduce youth smoking and provide
further incentive for those who want to quit. The idea of a
tobacco-free generation, where people born after a certain year are
never permitted to buy tobacco, was also suggested by a few
participants. This policy is being considered by the
Singaporean and Tasmanian State governments.
Participants also identified comprehensive support to help
smokers quit as an essential component of the suite of policies
needed to achieve the smokefree 2025 goal, with many participants
calling for more community-based and peer-support services to help
"Most of the people in both studies reacted positively to the
idea of a smokefree future. They especially want their children to
remain smokefree, and so welcome the smokefree goal as they see it
as compatible with their own aspirations", says Dr Ninya Maubach,
one of the study's co-authors.
"We know from large national surveys that four out of five
smokers say they would not smoke if they could live their lives
again, and this explains why so many smokers have thought about
ways to create an environment where children are protected from
The studies are online in two leading international journals:
BMC Public Health and Tobacco Control .