On 9 December 2021 the Government launched an action plan setting out its approach to achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal. ASPIRE Aotearoa members strongly support the plan and believe the measures outlined will greatly accelerate declines in smoking prevalence.

What is in the Action Plan?

The plan addresses disparities in smoking and the health inequalities that they cause, particularly for Māori and proposes strengthening Māori governance of the tobacco control programme. Key measures include reducing the nicotine content of tobacco products to very low and non-addictive levels, reducing the number and type of retail outlets selling smoked tobacco products, and introducing a smokefree generation policy to protect young people from addiction to smoking.

If fully implemented, we believe this comprehensive package of measures could bring about significant and enduring health benefits, and greatly hasten achievement of the Smokefree 2025 goal.

In January 2023, the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill came into force. The Act introduces the three key measures described above.

Further details about the plan are available here. The Smokefree legislation is available here.

We have published several blogs and op-eds summarising and critically assessing the proposed Action Plan, including an updated summary and appraisal. We have also published an Opinion piece setting out how implementing this world-leading plan could save many lives.

Evidence supporting these proposals

Blog series

ASPIRE2025 researchers have prepared several blogs that discuss smokefree measures, assess the evidence supporting these, and explain their potential implications. Those published to date include:

Bringing equitable change: Eliminating smoking disparities for Māori.

Reducing the nicotine content of smoked tobacco products: Mandated denicotinsation of smoked tobacco products why denicotinisation is a pivotal measure, and a modelling study of the impact of mandated denicotinisation of smoked tobacco products.

Reducing the availability of tobacco products: Evidence that supports reducing retail availability counterarguments to industry claims, and tobacco product availability through community pharmacies.

Smokefree generation: Tobacco-free generation policy and young people’s perspective on a tobacco-free generation.

Supporting and complementary measures: The case for banning cigarette filtersSocial marketing for Smokefree Aotearoa 2025Smokefree outdoor areas (one of the few important areas not addressed in the plan).

Addressing industry tactics and arguments: Industry price manipulation and the case for a minimum pricethe illicit tobacco trade and new evidence on illicit tobacco trade, and tobacco industry responses – industry renormalisation and industry ‘transformation’

New Zealand Aotearoa Contextual data: Key findings from 2021/22 NZHS and The Smokefree 2025 Action Plan: key findings from the ITC New Zealand (EASE)

Media and submissions

Media releases

New smokefree policy will improve Aotearoa health – December 2022

Action plan will transform tobacco policy – December 2021

ASPIRE 2025 welcomes draft action plan – April 2021


Media articles

Benefits of world-leading smoking legislation ignored. Otago Daily Times, December 16 2022. https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/benefits-world-leading-smoking-legislation-ignored

Momentum builds to end the smoking epidemic. Newsroom, June 21 2022. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/momentum-building-to-end-the-smoking-epidemic

Make cigarettes nicotine-free and we’ll stub out smoking for good. The Spinoff, October 14 2021. https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/14-10-2021/make-cigarettes-nicotine-free-and-well-stub-out-smoking-for-good/

World-leading action plan will reduce harm. Otago Daily Times, September 15 2021. https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/world-leading-action-plan-smoking-will-reduce-harm



ASPIRE Aotearoa. Submission to the Ministry of Health on Proposals for the Smoked Tobacco Regulatory Regime, 2023.

ASPIRE Aotearoa. Submission to Health Select Committee on Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill, 2022.

ASPIRE Aotearoa. Submission on Smokefree 2025 Action Plan consultation, 2021.

Frequently asked questions

FAQs explaining the Action Plan’s strengths and background on three key proposed measures: reducing the availability of tobacco; reducing the nicotine content in tobacco products to minimal levels, and introducing a Smoke Free Generation.

Video series

To further inform and to generate some understanding of these measures, we spoke with some key international experts in these areas.

Jon Berrick talks about creating a smoke-free generation.

Eric Donny talks about removing nicotine from tobacco products.

Jamie Pearce talks about reducing the number of tobacco retail outlets.

Luk Joossens talk about illicit tobacco markets.

Tom Novotny talks about removing cigarette filters.


ASPIRE Research Key Findings

  1. Ouakrim D, Wilson T, Waa A, Maddox R, Andrabi H, Mishra SR, Summers JA, et al. Tobacco endgame intervention impacts on health gains and Māori:non-Māori health inequity: a simulation study of the Aotearoa/New Zealand Tobacco Action Plan. Tobacco Control 2023. Available here.
  2. Hoek J, Lee E, Teddy L, Fenton E, Ball J, Edwards R. How do New Zealand youth perceive the smoke-free generation policy? A qualitative analysis. Tob Control 2022. Available here.
  3. Barbalich I, Gartner C, Edwards R, Hoek J. New Zealand Smokers’ Perceptions of Tobacco Endgame Measures: A Qualitative Analysis. Nicotine & Tobacco Research 2022; 24: 93-99. Available here
  4. Wilson N, Carter R, Heath D, Wei Z, Martinez E, Robertson L, Zhangmo P, Bloomfield S, Thomson G, Hoek J, Edwards R. Assessing cigarette smuggling at a time of border closure to international tourists: Survey of littered packs in New Zealand. Tobacco Control 2022. Available here.
  5. Edwards R, Stanley J, Johnson E, Waa AM, Ouimet J, Fong GT.  Support for New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 goal and key measures to achieve it: Findings from the ITC New Zealand Survey. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2021; 45: 554-561. Available here.
  6. McKiernan A, Stanley J., Waa A.M., Kaai S.C., Quah A.C.K., Fong G.T., Edwards R. Smoker and recent quitter beliefs about nicotine, addiction and de-nicotinised cigarettes: findings from the ITC New Zealand Survey. Tobacco Regulatory Science 2019; 5(5): 400-409. 
  7. Marsh L, Cameron C, Quigg R, Wood S, Blank M, Venter N, Thomas L, Robertson L, Hoek J, Sullivan T. Is the tobacco ‘footfall’ argument justified for tobacco purchases in New Zealand convenience stores? Tobacco Control 2022;31:438-443. Available here.
  8. Gartner CE, Wright A, Hefler M, Perusco A, Hoek J. It is time for governments to support retailers in the transition to a smoke-free Society. The Medical Journal of Australia 2021; 215(10), 446-8. Available here.
  9. Hoek J, Barbalich I, Edwards R, & Gartner CE. A qualitative analysis of how people who smoke and manage lower incomes perceive the Smokefree 2025 goal. New Zealand Medical Journal 2021; 134(1535), 70-74. Available here.
  10. Robertson L, Cameron C, Hoek JA, Sullivan T, Marsh L, Peterson E, Gendall P. Prevalence and characteristics of tobacco purchases in convenience stores: results of a postpurchase intercept survey in Dunedin, New Zealand. Tobacco control 2019; 28(6), 696-700. Available here.