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Tala Pasifika ‘want smokefree lives for young Pacific students after ASH report’

Mar 1, 2022 | Media release

Tala Pasifika – Pacific Action for Change welcomes the newly released ASH Year 10 Survey ( which has seen a major decrease in the number of teenagers smoking cigarettes except for Pacific students.

Lealailepule Edward Cowley – Tala Pasifika Director say’s “The good news is welcomed with open arms for Māori students, and we celebrate their win, but sadly the war on tobacco use for our young Pasifika populations in Aotearoa is on the losing side and requires additional enhancing. With young Pacific daily smoking barely moving we simply need to do more. This evidence provides us the good information required to amplify the needed to support to assist our young Pasifika people to be smokefree.”

Survey findings show that daily smoking rates for Pasifika young people surveyed barely changed from the last survey. For our young Pasifika people who smoke, a stronger reminder that the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan – Auahi Kore Aotearoa Mahere Rautaki 2025 ( has a purpose and specific focus in supporting young Pasifika population to live smokefree lives – the first making sure there is Māori leadership and decision-making across all levels of the action plan which Tala Pasifika fully supports.

The remaining 5 area’s directly link to Pasifika populations to live Smokefree lives. Which include

– Funding more health promotion and community activities to motivate and mobilise people across the country to get behind the smokefree goal and to sign-post support for people on their quit journey.

– Giving people the wrap-around support they need on their quit journey by investing in more tailored help such as a stop smoking service for Pacific communities.

– Making it easier to quit and harder to become addicted by only having low-level nicotine smoked tobacco products for sale and restricting product design features that increase their appeal and addictiveness.

– Making smoked tobacco products harder to buy by reducing the number of shops selling them and kickstarting a Smokefree generation.

– Making sure the tobacco industry and retailers follow the law.

Whilst tobacco use more or less remains the same for our young Pasifika peoples. Daily vaping rates increased significantly for all ethnicities (Māori, Pacific, Asian, NZ European), Pacific (3.9% in 2019 to 11% in 2021. We have seen an increase in vaping in our Pacific girls (3.1% in 2019 to 11% in 2021).

Associate Professor El-Shadan Tautolo, Director of the AUT Pacific Health Research Centre says, ” Increased vaping amongst Pasifika students can be for a number of reasons, so it is important that we are clear on who should and should not be vaping. The evidence suggests vape devices can be an effective stop smoking tool, but once our young people are confident they will not return to smoking cigarettes, then they should look at a plan to cease vape device use. Vaping was never intended for never smokers – so if you don’t smoke, then don’t vape”

Cowley says, “Community problems require a range of community solutions – a timely reminder that every Pasifika person has a role to play in supporting and encouraging our aiga who smoke tobacco to take that courageous journey to being smokefree”


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