This project was conducted by Ell Lee, supervised by Janet HoekElizabeth Fenton, Jude Ball, and Lani Teddy were advisors.

Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) plans to introduce a Smokefree Generation (SFG) policy, alongside denicotinisation and reducing the availability of tobacco products. The SFG has a clear rationale, yet we know little about how young people, those the policy targets, perceive it. To inform policy design, communication, and implementation, we explored how NZ youth perceived the SFG by undertaking in-depth interviews with a sample of 20 youth aged 17 or 18. We explored their knowledge of the SFG, and how they perceived its individual and societal implications, and interpreted the data using a reflexive thematic analysis approach.

We identified two over-arching themes. The first “societal good and protection from harm” reflected benefits participants associated with the SFG, which outweighed perceptions of lost freedoms. The second theme “privileging personal choice” corresponded to two small groups within the sample. The first preferred measures they considered less restrictive, such as increasing the purchase age, and some came to support the SFG as they rationalized their views. The second sub-group expressed more entrenched opposition and felt the SFG deprived them of a choice.  Young people’s deep reflection on the SFG led most to view it as liberating rather than restrictive. Communications that avoid prompting heuristic-based responses could encourage youth to reflect on the policy and elicit strong support from the group the SFG aims to benefit.


Hoek, J., Lee, E., Teddy, L., Fenton, E., Ball, J., & Edwards, R. (2022). How do New Zealand youth perceive the smoke-free generation policy? A qualitative analysis. Tobacco Control.


HRC programme 19/641 (2021/2022)