We went out into the community to talk to members of our whānau at the Pacifica National League cup. It was a colourful few days and a great opportunity to better understand current thoughts and perceptions on vaping and tobacco! Here's a snapshot of what we found.

"We need to tell our young people- don't start! It's so much harder to quit, but easy to not start"

Attendees we spoke to identified as Samoan (35%), Maori (8%), Tongan (19%), Fijian (12%), Cook islander (9%). Our Maori whanau came from iwi including Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Maru and Te Atiawa.

"We need more education on the long term impact of vaping"

Why do we have higher smoking rates?

When asked on reasons why we our rates are higher than other groups, the most common responses were stress (23%), normalised behaviour within our culture (20%) for example, growing up in a family of smokers, and peer pressure (16%). In contrast, when asked what could be done to stop rangatahi from taking up smoking, no suggestions related to stress, but an overwhelming majority felt supply reduction initiatives (37%) were best. This included increasing prices, stopping availability in dairies/ supermarkets, and working against targeted marketing.

Key messaging & education

Interestingly, very few people cited "lack of control" or "poor decisions" as a reason for smoking, which goes against what we see in the media/ mainstream research about those who smoke. This should be an important distinguishing point for us to work against in our mahi, given that it is not only untrue, but can lead to victim blaming. We have more work to do around education on vaping and smokefree 2025. While many had heard of vaping and had positive attitudes towards e-cigarettes (74%), only 33% of participants had heard of our Smokefree 2025 goal.

Take home points

We have more work to do on SmokeFree 2025 education and promoting accurate research on vaping. Our initiatives on supply reduction are consistent with what our whānau believe will help rangatahi stop starting, but we may benefit from looking into messaging around stress and complex life contexts that can trigger smoking as a stress relief. Doing more research into the sources of stress that lead to smoking may also be necessary.