Supporting young people to remain smokefree

Group of 8 teenagers of varying ethnicity, with their heads forming a circle. Source: Microsoft.If we can support young people to be smokefree, they are likely to remain smokefree for life – since very few people take up smoking after they reach their 20s.

Young people are leading the way to a Smokefree Aotearoa as increasing numbers of 14 to 15 year olds have never even had a puff.

There are a combination of factors involved in why young people take up smoking, including:

  • Family smoking: A young person is 7 times more likely to start smoking if both parents smoke. If their parents quit, they are also more likely to quit.
  • Access to tobacco products: Young people are more likely to take up smoking if they can afford to, and if cigarettes are easy to get.
  • Tobacco advertising and promotion: Young people are easily influenced by advertising and seeing celebrities smoking.
  • Social groups: Young people who smoke tend to hang out together.  Teenagers are more likely to smoke if their friends smoke.
  • Parental rules: Ensuring that no-one smokes inside the home or in the car protects children and young people.  It helps if parents who smoke openly talk about concerns about their own smoking habit.
  • Social norms: It’s hard to be smokefree if smoking is common or normal.

Let’s work to change the social acceptance of smoking

Creating smokefree environments

Smokefree Aotearoa 2025It’s now illegal to smoke in or around the grounds of workplaces, hospitals, schools and early childhood centres.

Other areas that are voluntarily smokefree are parks, playgrounds, sports grounds and outdoor dining venues in the Canterbury, South Canterbury and West Coast regions.

Find out about Community and Public Health’s work around smokefree community spaces.

Find out more about the Fresh Air Project  – a pilot initiative supporting outdoor dining venues in Christchurch to become smokefree.

Creating a smokefree culture

Parents and caregivers are powerful role models. Kids copy what they see so supporting parents and caregivers to quit is an important part of developing a smokefree culture.

Find out about the quit services available to those who smoke.

Make smoking less appealing

Reducing access to and the appeal of cigarettes will lower the chances of a young person starting to smoke. The following are two key effective actions to reduce the appeal of smoking:

Youth smoking in NZ is at an all time low

Action On Smoking And Health (ASH) media release: 14th February 2018

Results from the 2016 ASH Year 10 survey released today show that only 2.2 percent of Year 10 students smoke daily – compared to 15.2 percent in 1999. The number of students who have never even taken a puff of a cigarette has increased to nearly 80 percent – up from 55 percent a decade ago.

ASH Programme Manager Boyd Broughton said: “Much of this success is down to the hard work and commitment of schools to being smokefree. Young people are highly influenced by the environment around them, especially what their peers and parents do. Schools are doing a great job fostering smokefree environments and contributing to the decline in Year 10 smoking”.

There still remains some inequities across groups with Maori students were more than 5 times more likely to report smoking than Paheka students.

“Young Māori have always been seen as rangatira mō āpōpō (leaders for tomorrow) – this is especially so as we move towards a smoke-free 2025. It’s now time for our parents to support the ambitions of our future leaders to live smokefree. Being auahi kore is the best thing they can do for their own future and a smokefree future for our young Māori” said Mr Broughton.



Download or order smokefree resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


Contact your local CPH office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Stop Before You Start Campaign

Stop Before You Start puts a spotlight on young adult smoking behaviours, especially the turning point from experimental to regular smoking.

The campaign highlights the health and social impacts of smoking. The challenge to young adults is to understand that… “social smoking leads to regular smoking.”

The aims are to increase the audience’s resistance to tobacco, including:

  • offers of cigarettes in social settings;
  • understanding tobacco and its harms; and
  • increasing pro-smokefree and anti-tobacco attitudes.

Page last updated: 09/03/2018

Copyright © 2018, Community & Public Health,