Despite progressive population health policies to reduce tobacco harm, smoking prevalence continues to be inequitable amongst key ethnic groups in New Zealand. The purpose of this study is to describe the predictors of cigarette use amongst Pacific youth in New Zealand.
Data were collected as part of Youth’07, a nationally representative survey of the health and well-being of New Zealand adolescents. The study sample comprised 5471 students and this includes 1,178 were Pacific youth.
The smoking prevalence rate for Pacific youth was twice that of New Zealand European youth. Pacific girls and older age groups, ages 16–17, smoked more than Pacific boys and younger adolescents. Pacific youth from higher and mid-deprivation neighbourhoods smoked at twice the rate of youth from low deprivation areas. Local neighbourhood stores (dairies) were the most used location for purchasing cigarettes, and only 12.7% of under-aged adolescents were asked “most of the time” for age identification. Pacific adolescent smoking was associated with parental smoking, peer-group smoking and binge drinking. Parents not knowing the whereabouts of adolescents during after-school hours and night-times were also associated with adolescent smoking. A majority of Pacific adolescent smokers (70.2%) had tried to quit smoking.
The strategies for addressing ethically the issue of equal health for all is to allocate increased public health investments towards targeted quit-smoking treatment programmes for Pacific youth in New Zealand. Further qualitative studies with Pacific youth to inform the development of culturally-appropriate youth-focused quit-substance interventions is recommended.