Stopping them starting is the key to keeping young NZers off the smokes

June 30, 2017

Stopping them starting is the key to keeping young NZers off the smokes

Quitline is trying to decrease the number of young people smoking. Photo: Ashleigh Martin

According to Smokefree New Zealand research, if you reach 25 without smoking you likely never will.

New Zealanders aged 18 to 24 have the highest smoking rate of any age group.

However, Quitline thinks rising tobacco prices and prevention campaigns are helping to decrease this number.

Calvin Cochran, Quitline’s communication manager, said his organisation thinks one of the main reasons for a decrease in youth smoking is due to tobacco tax.

“The tobacco tax has increased about 10 per cent a year, for the last five years now, so smoking is getting very expensive,” Mr Cochran said.

“We’re seeing lots of young people not even start smoking to begin with.”

Mr Cochran said the focus with youth is prevention, while for adult smokers it is putting an end to their smoking. Josh, 28, who wishes to remain anonymous, started smoking at age 15.

“I was looking for something to do. I never imagined I’d keep smoking,” said Josh.

Josh has tried to quit several times, from quitting ‘cold turkey’, to using gum and patches. He said that by trying to quit so many different ways you “make your mind up that you’re not going to be able to stop”.

With smokers in New Zealand starting at an average age of around 15, other groups such as Counties Manukau Health have also been targeting youth smoking.

Creative marketing agencies, Richards Partners and Motion Sickness, joined together in 2015 to create the award-winning youth smoking campaign, ‘Snapped Out’.

The campaign used the popular social media app Snapchat to engage youth.

The six-week campaign attracted 1100 followers on Snapchat and saw 3400 people follow the campaign on Facebook.

The largest decrease in current smoking numbers since 2006/2007 has been in 15 to 17-year-olds.

“If someone wants to quit smoking it’s always encouraging if the people around them help them with that and help them along their quitting journey,” said Mr Cochran.

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