General news

Aotearoa’s government has repealed our world-leading Smokefree measures.

We are disappointed with the government’s decision to repeal the key measures included in Aotearoa’s world-leading Smokefree legislation. 

We strongly support Aotearoa’s Smokefree 2025 Action Plan and the Smokefree legislation that enacted the retailer reduction, denicotinisation, and smokefree generation policies. Robust evidence indicates that these would have rapidly and profoundly reduced smoking prevalence, led to substantial improvements to population health, and greatly reduced health inequities. 

What are the Action Plan and the Smokefree legislation?

In December 2021, the government launched a groundbreaking Smokefree 2025 Action Plan setting out its approach to achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal. Further details are available on our ‘Hot topics’ page here. There was wide consultation in the development of both documents, as well as strong public support.

By January 2023, Smokefree legislation to support the Action Plan came into force. The legislation included steps to: 

  • Greatly reduce the number of retail outlets selling smoked tobacco products
  • Reduce the nicotine content of tobacco products to very low and non-addictive levels
  • Introduce a smokefree generation policy to protect young people from addiction to smoking.

However, in February 2024 Aotearoa’s new government repealed the three measures. 

Evidence supporting the Action Plan and Smokefree legislation

Aotearoa’s Smokefree 2025 Action Plan and Smokefree legislation aimed to minimise smoking prevalence and address inequities in smoking and the health inequalities that result, particularly for Māori. 

You can find more resources below: 

Briefings and commentaries:

Smokefree Laws: Reducing tobacco outlets will decrease crime | PHCC 

High regret among people who smoke reinforces strong support for smokefree legislation | PHCC 

False zombie arguments about illicit tobacco shouldn’t be given any more oxygen | PHCC

Tobacco industry interference: Is the new Government meeting its international obligations? | PHCC 

Reducing nicotine in tobacco would help people quit – without prohibiting cigarettes | New Zealand Doctor (

The 5000 annual deaths caused by smoking also matter 

Key findings from the 2022/23 NZ Health Survey 

Stubbing out democracy: no Government mandate for smokefree repeal 

Young New Zealanders want a tobacco-free future - new research

A summary of the evidence to support retaining the Smokefree legislation

The economic argument for retaining the Smokefree Legislation 



Report from the Talbot Mills public opinion survey 

Awareness, support, and perceived impacts of New Zealand’s Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 legislation among adults who smoke or formerly smoked - Findings from the Oct-Dec 2022 EASE/ITC New Zealand Survey | ASPIRE Aotearoa  

Support and perceived impact of key Smokefree policies in young people in Aotearoa/New Zealand | ASPIRE Aotearoa


Videos and media coverage:

Ministers asked to disclose tobacco industry links as smoke-free repeal again takes centre stage in Parliament - NZ Herald 

The repeal of NZ Smokefree Law - Why you should care 

BBC Health check interview with ASPIRE Co-Director Professor Janet Hoek (00:01:00 to 00:08:16) 

ANZMAC 2023 presentation by ASPIRE Co-Director Professor Janet Hoek (00:25:00 to 01:04:00)

Bernard Hickey's interview with ASPIRE Co-Director Associate Professor Andrew Waa 

Tova O’Brien’s interview with ASPIRE Co-Director Professor Janet Hoek 



Over 100 organisations in Aotearoa (including ASPIRE Aotearoa, the Cancer Society, Hāpai Te Hauora Tāpui Public Health Authority, and the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners) have signed an open letter to the government opposing the repeal. You can find the letter here.

In addition, 139 medical, public health, academic and human rights organisations from 53 countries across the globe signed an open letter urging the government to retain the smokefree legislation measures. This letter is available here.

Further information on the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan and Smokefree legislation including links to key research and publications that support the Smokefree Legislation can be found here.


Kia kaha, 

The ASPIRE Aotearoa team.