Supporting young people to remain smokefree and vapefree

Family with three children ranging in ages from an infant to a teenager. Source: Health Promotion Agency.If we can support young people to be smokefree, they are likely to remain smokefree for life. This is since very few people take up smoking after they reach their 20s.

Young people are leading the way to a Smokefree Aotearoa with around three-quarters of young people never having had a puff of tobacco – 78.6 percent in 2015 compared to 33 percent in 2000.

However youth daily vaping rates have increased – including many young people who have never smoked cigarettes. There was a small but statistically significant increase in daily vaping (9.6 percent in 2021 to 10.1 percent in 2022) – and this was much smaller than in the previous few years.

A combination of factors contribute to young people take up smoking or vaping, including:

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

Cover of Let's clear the air: Information for schools, whānau and youth service providers about being smokefree and vapefree.New Health NZ resources to support vapefree and smokefree kaupapa in education settings

The Harmful Commodities team in the Health Promotion Directorate of Health NZ has published resources to support education settings around vaping.

Government to crack down on youth vaping

The coalition Government is taking action to tackle youth vaping, announced Associate Health Minister Casey Costello in March 2024.

“Cabinet has agreed to a complete ban on disposable vapes, significant increases in fines for sales to under-18s, further restrictions on retailers and a better enforcement system to ensure vape retailers are following the rules,” Ms Costello says.

“While vaping has contributed to a significant fall in our smoking rates, the rapid rise in youth vaping has been a real concern for parents, teachers, and health professionals.

“Reusable vapes are a key smoking cessation device and will remain available.

“But too many teenagers continue to use disposable vapes. They’re cheap and remain too easy to get – despite changes under the previous government. That’s why these cheap, single use vape products will be banned outright.”

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act will be amended to ban the manufacture and sale of disposable vaping products, and significantly increase penalties for sales of cigarettes and vapes to minors.

“There must be clear consequences for retailers found supplying vapes, or other regulated products like cigarettes, to minors,” Ms Costello says.

“Therefore, the maximum fine for retailers found selling vapes or other regulated products to under-18s will increase from $10,000 to $100,000. The penalty for infringement offences will rise from $500 to $1,000 for individuals and to $2,000 for businesses.”

Ms Costello says Cabinet has also agreed to introducing further requirements on specialist vape retailers, such as tighter restrictions on storefront displays and staffing requirements, with officials to conduct targeted consultation on these proposals.

“We will also review the licensing and compliance regimes around vaping so that the higher penalties for selling to under-18s are backed by stronger enforcement.

The restriction for all vaping devices sold in New Zealand to have removable batteries and child safety mechanisms has been deferred until 1st October 2024.

Let’s work to change the social acceptance of smoking and vaping

Creating smokefree and vapefree environments

Smokefree Aotearoa New Zealand 2025.

One way to help achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal is to make more community spaces smokefree.

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

Encouraging smokefree and vapefree parks, playgrounds and sports grounds can help stop children starting to smoke or vape. The average age for starting to smoke is around 14 years for Pakeha and around 11 years old for Māori tamariki.

Creating a smokefree and vapefree 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.

Let’s make our children the next generation of non-smokers.

Make smoking less appealing

Reducing access to and the appeal of cigarettes and vapes will lower the chances of a young person starting to smoke. The following current actions aim to reduce the appeal of smoking and vaping:

  • plain packaging ensures that tobacco is not displayed in an attractive way;
  • raising taxes to make tobacco less affordable;
  • banning vaping devices with cartoons or toys on their packaging – from 21st March 2024.
  • only allowing generic names to describe vape flavours to be used, such as ‘orange’ or ‘berry’ –  from 21st March 2024;
  • banning disposable single-use vapes – from 1st October 2024.



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


Contact your local office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777

Ph: +64 3 687 2600

Ph: +64 3 768 1160

Do you know what you're breathing? Don't get sucked in!

Hine and Tāne chatbots for those on smoke-free journeys

Two digital tools are available for young tāne and wahine who want to stop smoking. TUA – Hine and Tāne chatbots are available 24/7 on Facebook Messenger, sending daily check-ins, tips and distractions to provide support through the first 30 days of stopping smoking.

The TUA website and social media pages also offer a wealth of mātauranga Māori to help whānau connect to themselves and te taiao (the natural environment). This includes knowledge of maramataka (the Māori lunar cycle), pūrākau (stories and legends), and karakia to empower them in their daily lives on their smoke-free journey.

The creation of the chatbots has been a collaborative effort involving many supporters, including passionate wāhine Māori.

Photo of TUA - Hine chatbot.

Protect Your Breath youth vaping harm campaign

A campaign designed to get Aotearoa’s youth thinking about their vaping has started.

“The campaign’s desired effect is to get young people to think critically about their decisions to use vaping products. The great thing about this campaign is that it has been designed by youth for youth,” says Hayden McRobbie – Regional Director of the National Public Health Service.

Protect your Breath has been co-designed with the Hā Collective, a group of young people, schools and experts to explore ways to reduce the harms of youth vaping.

A website for parents has also been developed to support the campaign and provides resources supporting conversations with young people to make critical decisions about their use of vaping products.

Protect your Breath will aim to provoke conversations and encourage people to consider the impact of vaping on themselves and their communities.

Page last updated: 20/06/2024

Copyright © 2024, Community & Public Health,