Unequal risks, unmet needs: the tobacco burden for Pacific peoples in New Zealand

N Z Med J. 2009 Sep 25;122(1303):39-53.


Aim: To review the available published literature and documentary material relevant to smoking by Pacific peoples in New Zealand.

Methods: Electronic databases and websites were searched using a range of search words.

Results: Over 30% of Pacific adults in New Zealand reporting being smokers in the 2006 Census, compared to 21% of the whole adult population. Smoking by Pacific women increased from 23% in 1996 to 27% in the 2006 census. Other survey data indicates some fall in the prevalence of daily smoking from 35% in 2002/3 to 26% in 2006/7. The prevalence of smoking by Pacific Year-10 students declined sharply during 1999-2007, from 29% to 16%. Smoking inside the homes of Pacific students has declined during 2001-7, from 35% to 26%. We found little government attention to smoking by Pacific peoples, and no specific central government plan for Pacific tobacco control.

Conclusions: The threat to health from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure is higher for Pacific peoples and contributes to health inequalities in New Zealand. There is a need for tobacco control interventions specific to Pacific peoples, with some policy shortcomings needing to be urgently addressed. A central government plan for Pacific tobacco control is required. Some progress has occurred, particularly in the decrease of smoking by Pacific youth, and the increase in smokefree Pacific homes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Smoking* / adverse effects
  • Smoking* / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution