Smoking rates among 13 and 14-year-olds have fallen to a record low while vaping has risen, according to the 2021 ASH (Action for Smokefree 2025) Year 10 Survey.
The study found the number of year 10 students who smoke cigarettes daily has dropped from around two per cent in 2019, to 1.3 per cent in 2021.
In December last year, a survey carried out by the Ministry of Health showed the proportion of all New Zealanders smoking dropped from 11.9 per cent in the 2019-2020 survey to 9.4 per cent in 2021.
This year's ASH survey also found significant declines in smoking by students of all ethnicities.
Māori students led the way with a 40 per cent decrease in daily smoking rates since 2019. Only 3.4 per cent smoked daily in 2021.
The ASH year 10 survey is one of the largest running surveys of youth tobacco and vaping.
It has run since 1999, its first year finding 15.6 per cent of year 10 students smoked cigarettes daily.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark welcomed the survey, “as a former Minister of Health, I know that public health policy relies on the best possible evidence.
“The ASH year 10 Survey, which has been undertaken for nearly 30 years, provides the evidence for policy-makers, government and researchers on youth smoking and youth vaping.”
ASH Director Deborah Hart said the results of last years survey shows teenagers have already reached the Smokefree 2025 goal of less than five per cent smoking daily.
“We are delighted at this result because smoking kills 5000 Kiwis every year.”
“The Survey results are consistent with trends in young adults shown by the 2021 NZ Health Survey.
“This is the biggest fall in youth smoking rates in a decade, and it’s extremely encouraging to see young people leading the progress towards a smoke free Aotearoa,” Hart said.
The fall in smoking has however meant an increase in daily vaping, from 3.1 per cent in 2019 to 9.6 per cent in 2021.
But Hart said, “vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking, however, we don’t want youth to take up vaping."
"The most important thing we can do for our teenagers is to help them make good choices for themselves.
“The Government’s recently introduced vaping regulations will further protect teenagers by banning vaping advertising and sponsorship, and sales to young people," Hart said.
Top Image: File picture. (Source: 1News/istock.com)