The smoking endgame and youth vaping in New Zealand

Time: 15:55 - 16:10

Date: Thursday 16th November 2023

Regular adult smoking rates in New Zealand have declined almost 40% between 2019 and 2022 to only 9% of adults, tripling the rate of decline achieved over the previous 10 years. These dramatic declines have been accompanied by a rapid rise in vaping, and there are now more people who vape in New Zealand than smoke; the vast majority are former smokers.

In 2022, the New Zealand parliament voted for smoking endgame policies, including all cigarettes to be very low nicotine by 2025, to reduce cigarette sales outlets by 90% in 2024, and introduce a smokefree generation policy. Easy access to safer alternatives played a key role in giving lawmakers the confidence to end smoked tobacco and minimise the risk to people who still smoke.

With the smoking endgame now policy, vaping has become a hot political issue. Public reaction to youth vaping and aggressive policy against vaping in Australia are driving tensions, with youth vaping being framed as a ‘crisis’ and creating a ‘generation hooked on nicotine’.

The debate has become a battle between youth prevention and reducing adult smoking. This talk will examine the impact vaping has had on smoking in New Zealand, and why we can’t afford a culture war on vaping that hurts both young people and adults, and risks undoing harm reduction efforts as policymakers scramble to respond to public concerns.


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