A recent study undertaken by Whakahā o te Pā Harakeke summer student Ivana Barbalich found New Zealand needs more innovative stop-smoking measures if it is to achieve its 2025 smoke-free goal. The study involved in-depth interviews with 20 people who smoke daily, were aged between 21 and 53, and who earned less than the median income. Ms Barbalich and programme co-director Janet Hoek explored participants’ smoking history and views on smokefree policies, including potential tobacco endgame measures.
Understanding of the goal varied, with some participants believing the goal would prohibit smoking or ban tobacco sales. When advised that the goal would see smoking prevalence fall to below five per cent among all population groups, most participants supported the goal.
Several also supported introducing novel measures, particularly reducing the nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, which they thought could help reduce their dependence on nicotine and enable them to become smokefree. Participants also called for more intensive personal support to help them quit, but did not agree with a proposal where people would be paid to quit.
The study findings highlight the need for a comprehensive strategy that includes different measures, and complement those from larger surveys and modelling studies, which also have also found that show reducing nicotine content and increasing personal support would help New Zealand reach its Smokefree 2025 goal.
The study team argue it is time to change how tobacco products are designed and supplied, and to recognise that becoming smokefree is not simply a matter of swapping one source of nicotine for another but requires people to recreate rituals that provide social connections, comfort and relaxation. They hope the upcoming Smokefree Action Plan will incorporate measures included in the draft plan, including greatly reducing the availability and appeal of tobacco products, and ending these products’ ability to create and maintain addiction.
Barbalich I, Gartner C, Edwards R, et al. New Zealand Smokers’ Perceptions of Tobacco Endgame Measures: A Qualitative Analysis. Nicotine & Tobacco Research 2021
Hoek J, Barbalich I, Edwards R, et al. A qualitative analysis of how people who smoke and manage lower incomes perceive the Smokefree 2025 goal. New Zealand Medical Journal 2021;134 (1535):70-74.