Smoking among New Zealand adolescents 1960-93

N Z Med J. 1995 Mar 8;108(995):85-7.


Aim: To examine the prevalence of smoking among New Zealand youth from the 1960's to the 1990's to determine whether smoking among the young is increasing or decreasing.

Method: Major surveys of smoking among adolescents were reviewed and analysed to identify trends in smoking over time. Using data from the Dunedin and Christchurch longitudinal studies of child development, it was also possible to examine recent cohort changes in uptake of smoking.

Results: Evidence suggests that by the 1990's about one in every five 15 year-olds had smoked in the last month, while about one in every ten smoked daily. This represents a significant decline from very high levels of smoking in the 1970's, and appears to have occurred among boys and girls, European and Maori, although perhaps less so among adolescent girls.

Conclusion: Despite some community perceptions to the contrary, there have been significant declines in smoking among adolescents over the last three decades. Overall, the data present a somewhat encouraging view of smoking among New Zealand youth. However, further inroads into smoking in this age group may well depend upon greater restrictions of access to cigarettes and overcoming barriers to the implementation of school based educational programmes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Smoking / trends*