Aim: To compare the prevalence of smoking, factors associated with smoking, ex-smokers and reasons for stopping in Maori and Europeans aged 10 years and older.
Methods: Demographic and smoking data were obtained by personal interview using a standard questionnaire and assisted by Maori health carers. Report-back meetings were held.
Results: The smoking status in 713 subjects (Maori 52.5%, Europeans 47.5%) was: current smokers (Maori 48.1%, Europeans 19.8%); never smoked (Maori 28.1%, Europeans 47.5%); ex-smokers (Maori 23.8%, Europeans 32.7%). Of Maori smokers, 66.1% were women whereas of European smokers 47.8% were women. Significantly more Maori aged 10 to 29 years smoked than Europeans (p = 0.0002). Nineteen percent of smokers smoked < 5 cigarette equivalents per day, 68.8% smoked 5 to 20, and 12.2% smoked > 20 cigarettes per day. There was no gender difference in cigarette consumption. Maoridom (p = 0.00001), a less skilled occupation (p = 0.0008), lower income (< or = $15,000 p = 0.002) and alcohol consumption (p = 0.00001) were significantly associated with current smoking. Reasons for giving up smoking were health (majority), awareness of risks (Europeans), financial (Maori men), pregnancy (Maori women), social unacceptability (European women), on advice of medical practitioner (minority).
Conclusions: Smoking remains a major problem in New Zealand, particularly in Maori. Stricter anti-tobacco measures than already exist, greater input from medical practitioners and particularly ongoing participation by Maori health carers should lead to a further decline in smoking.