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World Smokefree Day - 'Commit to Quit - Whakamutu'

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It’s World Smokefree day on 31 May and the Southern District’s Smokefree coalitions (Otago and Murihiku) are celebrating our smokefree people, whānau, places and environments.

“New Zealanders are joining the trend and either not smoking or giving up smoking,” says Debby Newton, Action Chair of Smokefree Otago.

“The most recent tobacco-use figures show around 89% of New Zealanders do not smoke and we are moving towards the Government’s goal of a smokefree Aotearoa in 2025.”

World Smokefree Day is the ideal time to celebrate not only smokefree successes but highlight the harm smoking has on our people and surroundings. 

One of the ground-breaking initiatives proposed in the Government’s Smokefree Action Plan is to prohibit filters in cigarettes.  Cigarette butts not only promote a false perception of less harm to people who smoke, they are one of the most littered products worldwide, causing significant harm to our marine life and environment.

According to the results of the 2019 National Litter Audit by Keep NZ Beautiful there are an estimated 10,269,090,000 littered cigarette butts polluting New Zealand ecosystems. “It turns out that's enough cigarettes for 2,142 per person and they're all littering our environment. By educating the public about the environmental impact of cigarette butt litter we hope more people will make a commitment to stopping smoking” says Ms Newton.

“We commend the government for bold proposals for action to help the country achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal. In the end it’s all about protecting our current and future tamariki and rangatahi from smoking-related harm – making NZ the best place to be a child” says Catherine Thomas, Health Promotion Advisor at Public Health South.

The Smokefree coalitions have the following activities planned:

Regional: The team are creating a video where we hear voices from people in the community about why they want a smokefree NZ by 2025, or they can comment on proposals in the Government’s bold Smokefree 2025 Action Plan. To be part of this – the public are asked to send their video to before 31 May.

Dunedin: The team will be celebrating WSFD by displaying artwork from Balaclava school students at the Esplanade. The artwork will be their interpretations of what a smokefree beach/environment looks like and aims to encourage council to add more smokefree (and vapefree) environments, such as smokefree/vapefree beaches, to their existing policy.

Queenstown: The team will be raising awareness about the need for smokefree beaches, following the success of the smokefree beaches trial. There will be artwork from Remarkables Primary School & Queenstown Primary School to support the environmental benefits of smokefree beaches.

Invercargill: The team will be chalking Smokefree/Vapefree stencils on sidewalks in the Invercargill CBD area (still TBC).  Bridget Forsyth, Health Promotion Advisor, Cancer Society will be presenting Labour MP Liz Craig with the Cancer Society petition that called for a reduction in the number of tobacco retailers on 31 May.

For more information about becoming smokefree, for you or whānau, contact the Southern Stop Smoking Service. The service is free and to get in touch with them free phone 0800 925 242, email the service at, or refer online at

For further information, please contact:

Debby Newton – or 027-685-4911