Smoking rates amongst young people in New Zealand have dropped by almost a third over the past year, with more and more teenagers now turning their back on the habit.
According to data in a newly released Ministry of Health report, the number of 15-17 year olds using tobacco has dropped from 12,000 to 8,000 over the past 12 months - a figure that represents an even more dramatic drop when compared with 2008, when the figures sat at around 35,000.
A new generation of ‘never smokers’ has now emerged according to the Ministry of Health, with previous research showing that people who avoid the habit until they’re 25 are extremely unlikely to then take it up.
This is something which has especially pleased Sharryn Gannon, Clinical Director of ‘Quitline’. She said: “We are finally seeing the majority of young people not taking up cigarettes, creating a new generation of 'never-smokers. The lingering effect likely to occur as a result of tens of thousands of young people not taking up smoking in the first place would be immense”.
Young people aren’t the only group shunning the cigarettes either, with the study also showing that Maori smoking rates - which have traditionally been higher than average - have dropped by 5% too. This figure remains high however, with 32.2% of Maori males still continuing the habit.
The figures from New Zealand are reflected around much of the Western World, with many potential reasons given for the seismic change in attitudes. Better education from a younger age has undoubtedly played a huge role, whilst the rise of electronic cigarettes and smoking bans have also played their part.
Following their success, New Zealand will now hope that a smokefree future could be closer to reality than many people might imagine.