Survey reveals less teens smoking

HPF welcomes the newly released ASH Year 10 Survey which has seen a major decrease in the number of teenagers smoking cigarettes. 

The study found the number of Year 10 students who smoke cigarettes daily has dropped from around 2% in 2019, to 1.3% in 2021.

The survey also found that Māori students led the way with a massive 40% decrease in daily smoking rates since 2019. Only 3.4% smoked daily in 2021.

Former Prime Minister and ASH patron, Helen Clark said “as a former Minister of Health, “I know that public health policy relies on the best possible evidence”. 

She said the survey provided the evidence for policy-makers, the Government and researchers on youth smoking and youth vaping.


ASH Director Deborah Hart says the survey results show teenagers have already reached the Smokefree 2025 goal of less than 5% smoking daily (95% smokefree).

“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 smokefree Aotearoa.”

The fall in smoking was accompanied by an increase in daily vaping from 3.1% in 2019 to 9.6% in 2021. 

Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking,” Ms Hart says. “However, we don’t want youth to take up vaping.

“The main reason students gave for vaping – 39.8% – was ‘just to give it a try’. While for those who vape daily, the most common reason was because they enjoy it – 31.1%.”

The ASH Year 10 survey is one of the largest and longest running surveys of youth tobacco and vaping behaviours and attitudes in the world. It has run annually since 1999 with the exception of 2020 which was cancelled because of Covid-19. In 1999 it found 15.6% of Year 10 students smoked cigarettes daily.

Banner photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash