Smoking rates in Aotearoa New Zealand continue to decrease. Currently, an estimated 7% of adults smoke on a daily basis (284,000 people) and 8% of adults currently smoke (350,000 people).1 However, there are significant inequities in smoking rates. Daily smoking rates are much higher among Māori (17.1%), people experiencing higher levels of deprivation (10.7%), and disabled people (9.1%).

We do not have up to date data on smoking rates among people with experience of mental health conditions or problematic substance use. 

What we can estimate from the available data is that rates are likely to be much higher than the general population. Smokefree is therefore an Equally Well issue. As Equally Well champions, let’s do our bit to support people to quit, prevent uptake, and get these numbers down.


This information supports Equally Well champions to:

  • Understand the elements of the Smokefree Legislation and the implications of the repeal.
  • Outline the evidence underpinning the Smokefree Legislation.
  • Advocate for informed discussions on the Smokefree Legislation proposals within their communities and networks.
  • Effectively communicate the public health benefits associated with maintaining or strengthening a Smokefree Legislation.


What can we all do about it?

Equally Well partners can continue to advocate for evidence-based quit support measures. Mental health and substance use service providers, and the whole health sector, have a responsibility to ensure that effective support to quit smoking is provided to those with mental health and substance use conditions, in line with recently updated guidance from the RANZCP21

Equally Well partners can also support and advocate for the SERPA Act in New Zealand as an organisation or as an individual, by:

– Collaborating with other organisations and advocacy groups to strengthen the collective voice supporting the Act.

– Lobbying government officials and policymakers to ensure the continued enforcement and enhancement of smokefree laws.

– Sending emails to:

  • Your local MP (you can look them up here) and/or 
  • The Prime Minister ( and/or 
  • The Health Minister (

– Engaging with local communities and people with lived experience to understand their concerns and needs related to smoke free initiatives.

– Supporting research initiatives that provide an evidence-base for the SERPA Act and progress towards smokefree goals, particularly for people with mental health and substance use conditions.

– Staying informed about proposed changes to smokefree Legislation and actively participating in the policy development process.

  • Signing petitions:
  • Speaking out against the repeal using various media channels (TV, radio, social media). You could also consider reposting links to op-eds, briefings or other commentaries explaining the evidence behind the legislation. You can find some examples here.

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