Janet Hoek, Richard Edwards, Andrew Waa*
Once a common practice, smoking prevalence has declined since its peak in the 1960s, after the serious health risks it poses became clear. Government policies and social marketing campaigns have progressively reduced smoking’s acceptability; however, slow reductions in prevalence have seen inequities persist and led some governments to adopt tobacco endgame strategies that rapidly reduce smoking prevalence by a specific date. Achieving endgame goals will bring profound health benefits but face opposition. Tobacco companies have simultaneously opposed core endgame measures, attempted to metamorphose into public health allies, and tried to shape social norms by framing smoking is a personal choice. In this blog, we expand on research exploring smoking’s trajectory and declining social acceptability, and consider challenges that tobacco endgame strategists will need to address.
Richard Edwards, Janet Hoek, Nick Wilson, Andrew Waa [Department of Public Heath, University of Otago, Wellington]
The latest NZ Health Survey data continues to show encouraging reductions in smoking prevalence. However, progress remains inadequate to achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal with persisting disparities in smoking, particularly for Māori and Pacific peoples. The Government urgently needs to introduce a comprehensive action plan, including measures to reduce the continued marked disparities in smoking. E-cigarette use and vaping has increased over the last three to four years, though its contribution to reducing smoking prevalence is not yet clear. There is no evidence that increased e-cigarette use among 15-17 year olds is slowing the decline in smoking among young adults.
Richard Edwards, Janet Hoek, Nick Wilson, Andrew Waa [All from Department of Public Heath, University of Otago, Wellington]
New NZ Health Survey data show some encouraging recent reductions in smoking prevalence. However, progress remains inadequate to achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal and the government needs to take urgent action, particularly to reduce marked disparities for Māori and Pacific peoples. The data also show increased uptake of e-cigarettes/vaping over the last 3-4 years, but the contribution of vaping to helping achieve the smokefree goal is not yet clear.
Ms Frederieke Sanne van der Deen, Professor Nick Wilson, Professor Tony Blakely
On Thursday the NZ Government announced it would continue it’s programme of yearly 10% tobacco tax increases for the years 2017 to 2020 inclusive. Using our peer-reviewed BODE3 forecasting model, we project that with these additional four years of tax increases smoking prevalence in 2020 will be 21.4% for Māori and to 8.9% for non-Māori – compared to a projected 22.7% and 9.3% if this taxation programme had not continued beyond January 2016. Prevalence reductions may be greater if we hit a ‘tipping point’ – our modelling necessarily uses responsiveness to tax seen in the past. Thus the further tax increases will help us get to a tobacco-free NZ by 2025, but more ‘endgame’ strategies are almost certainly also needed.