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George Thomson, Department of Public Health

BA (History and Politics), Masters (Public Policy), PhD


Research Associate Professor; HePPRU

Contact details 

Tel +64 4 385 5999 ext 6054
Fax +64 4 389 5319

Research interests and activities 

George's research interests are in tobacco control, health policy and health politics. His work includes researching government and business behaviour as determinants of population health, with recent research covering:

  • The effects and ethics of tobacco taxation.
  • Smoking and smokefree areas outdoors and in vehicles.
  • Tobacco endgames.

His research has been funded by the Health Research Council, the Cancer Society, the Heart Foundation, and ASH NZ, and he has been a co-investigator on two Marsden Foundation funded projects.

Much of his recent research has focused on areas relevant to smokefree outdoor area policies and smokefree vehicle. This includes the observation of smoking behaviour, establishing outdoor and vehicle smoking prevalence, and the surrounding climates of opinion. Current research includes the communication of smokefree area policies and public health history, public health legislation and planetary health.

Work on underlying health principles includes: Thomson G, Hoek J, Marsh L. The long-term supply of tobacco and nicotine: Some goals, principles and policy implications. Tob Control 2019 Online December 10.

Please see:

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Wilson, N., Clement, C., Thomson, G., & Harper, G. (2021). Health impacts for New Zealand military personnel from the South African War of 1899-1902. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1532), 22-43. Retrieved from

Wilson, N., Rice, G., Thomson, G., & Baker, M. G. (2021). Remembering past pandemics to ensure we plan for the future: Updated New Zealand survey of memorials to the 1918 influenza pandemic. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1528), 111-114. Retrieved from

Hoek, J., Edwards, R., Thomson, G. W., Waa, A., & Wilson, N. (2021). Tobacco excise taxes: A health and social justice measure? Tobacco Control, 30(3), 258-259. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2020-055735

Wilson, N., Thomson, G., & Edwards, R. (2020). Smoke-free cars legislation: It works but New Zealand should still rigorously evaluate its upcoming law. New Zealand Medical Journal, 133(1520), 106-110. Retrieved from

Thomson, G. W., Hoek, J., & Marsh, L. (2020). The long-term supply of tobacco and nicotine: Some goals, principles and policy implications. Tobacco Control, 29, 699-702. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-055132

Chapter in Book - Research

Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2017). Global tobacco industry. In S. R. Quah & W. Cockerham (Eds.), The International encyclopedia of public health (Vol. 3). (2nd ed.) (pp. 292-300). Oxford, UK: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-803678-5.00463-X

Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2015). The global tobacco industry. In M. J. Caplan (Ed.), Reference module in biomedical sciences. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-801238-3.03201-3

Gifford, H., & Thomson, G. (2012). Smoke free environments for children: The relationship between schools and wider smoke free environments. In J. A. O'Dea (Ed.), Current Issues and controversies in school and community health, sport and physical education. (pp. 157-166). Nova.

Thomson, G., Wilson, N., & Crane, J. (2008). Rethinking the regulatory framework for tobacco control in New Zealand. In A. Ghose (Ed.), Impact of government policies on marketing strategies. (pp. 179-188). Hyderabad, India: Icfai University Press.

Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2008). The tobacco industry. In K. Heggenhougen & S. Quah (Eds.), International encyclopedia of public health (Vol. 6). (pp. 331-337). San Diego, USA: Academic Press.

Thomson, G. W., & Wilson, N. (2001). Tobacco control policy. In P. Davis & T. Ashton (Eds.), Health and public policy in New Zealand. (pp. 237-254). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

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Journal - Research Article

Wilson, N., Clement, C., Thomson, G., & Harper, G. (2021). Health impacts for New Zealand military personnel from the South African War of 1899-1902. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1532), 22-43. Retrieved from

Gage, R., Wilson, N., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2019). Shade in playgrounds: Findings from a nationwide survey and implications for urban health policy. Journal of Public Health, 27(5), 669-674. doi: 10.1007/s10389-018-0990-9

Thomson, G., Nee-Nee, J., Sutherland, K., Holland, R., Wilson, M., & Wilson, N. (2019). Observed vaping and smoking in outdoor public places: Piloting objective data collection for policies on outdoor vaping. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 43(4), 401-402. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12907

Nee-Nee, J., Sutherland, K., Holland, R., Wilson, M., Ackland, S., Bocock, C., Cartmell, A., Earp, J., Grove, C., Hewson, C., Jeffries, W., Keefe, L., Lockyer, J., Patel, S., Quintans, M., Robbie, M., Teape, L., Yang, J., Wilson, N., Hoek, J., & Thomson, G. (2019). Tobacco pack display at hospitality venues after the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging in New Zealand: A field observation study. BMJ Open, 9, e027868. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027868

Gurram, N., Thomson, G., Wilson, N., & Hoek, J. (2019). Electronic cigarette online marketing by New Zealand vendors. New Zealand Medical Journal, 132(1506), 20-33. Retrieved from

Clement, C., Abeling, S., Deely, J., Teng, A., Thomson, G., Johnston, D., & Wilson, N. (2019). Descriptive epidemiology of New Zealand's highest mortality earthquake: Hawke's Bay in 1931. Scientific Reports, 9, 4914. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41432-6

Gage, R., Wilson, N., Signal, L., Barr, M., Reeder, A., & Thomson, G. (2018). Using Google Earth to assess shade for sun protection in urban recreation spaces: Methods and results. Journal of Health Communication, 43, 1061-1068. doi: 10.1007/s10900-018-0522-0

Crosbie, E., Thomson, G., Freeman, B., & Bialous, S. (2018). Advancing progressive health policy to reduce NCDs amidst international commercial opposition: Tobacco standardised packaging in Australia. Global Public Health, 13(12), 1753-1766. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2018.1443485

Tinawi, G., Gray, T., Knight, T., Glass, C., Domanski, N., Wilson, N., Hoek, J., & Thomson, G. (2018). Highly deficient alcohol health warning labels in a high-income country with a voluntary system. Drug & Alcohol Review, 37(5), 616-626. doi: 10.1111/dar.12814

Wilson, N., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2018). Surveying all public drinking water fountains in a city: Outdoor field observations and Google Street View. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 42(1), 83-85. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12730

Signal, L. N., Bowers, S. G., Edwards, R., Gifford, H., Hudson, S., Jenkin, G. L. S., Lanumata, T. S., Russell, M. L., Thomson, G., & Walton, M. D. (2018). Process, pitfalls and profits: Lessons from interviewing New Zealand policy-makers. Health Promotion International, 33(2), 187-194. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daw065

Crosbie, E., & Thomson, G. (2018). Regulatory chills: Tobacco industry legal threats and the politics of tobacco standardised packaging in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 131(1473), 25-41. Retrieved from

Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2017). Smokefree signage at New Zealand racecourses and sports facilities with outdoor stands. New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1464), 80-86. Retrieved from

Lowrie, C., Pearson, A. L., & Thomson, G. (2017). Inequities in coverage of smokefree space policies within the United States. BMC Public Health, 17, 456. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4385-6

Wilson, N., Ferguson, C., Rice, G., Baker, M. G., Schrader, B., Clement, C., & Thomson, G. (2017). Remembering the 1918 influenza pandemic: National suvey of memorials and scope for enhancing educational value around pandemic preparedness. New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1465), 53-70. Retrieved from

Wilson, N., Morales, A., Guy, N., & Thomson, G. (2017). Marked decline of sudden mass fatality events in New Zealand 1900 to 2015: The basic epidemiology. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 41(3), 275-279. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12652

Clews, C., Brajkovich-Payne, R., Dwight, E., Fauzul, A. A., Burton, M., Carleton, O., Cook, J., Deroles, C., Faulkner, R., Furniss, M., Herewini, A., Huband, D., Jones, N., Kim, C. W., Stanley, J., Li, A., Wilson, N., Lu, J., & Thomson, G. (2016). Alcohol in urban streetscapes: A comparison of the use of Google Street View and on-street observation. BMC Public Health, 16(1), 442. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3115-9

Ivory, V. C., Blakely, T., Richardson, K., Thomson, G., & Carter, K. (2015). Do changes in neighborhood and household levels of smoking and deprivation result in changes in individual smoking behavior? A large-scale longitudinal study of New Zealand adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 182(5), 431-440. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv097

Thomson, G., Wilson, N., Collins, D., & Edwards, R. (2015). Attitudes to smoke-free outdoor regulations in the USA and Canada: A review of 89 surveys. Tobacco Control, 25(5), 506-516. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2015-052426

Healey, B., Hoek, J., Wilson, N., Thomson, G., Taylor, S., & Edwards, R. (2015). Youth exposure to in-vehicle second-hand smoke and their smoking behaviours: Trends and associations in repeated national surveys (2006-2012). Tobacco Control, 24(2), 146-152. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051124

Wilson, N., Blaschke, P., Thomson, G., Nghiem, N., & Horrocks, J. (2015). Public health aspects of feral deer, goats and pigs in New Zealand: A review to inform eradication decisions. New Zealand Geographer, 71(3), 177-188. doi: 10.1111/nzg.12086

Wilson, N., Oliver, J., & Thomson, G. (2014). Smoking close to others and butt littering at bus stops: Pilot observational study. PeerJ, 2, e272. doi: 10.7717/peerj.272

Martin, N., McHugh, H., Murtagh, J., Oliver-Rose, C., Panesar, D., Pengelly, H., Rieper, S., Schofield, H., Singh, V., Speed, A., Strachan, R., Tapsell, T. K., Trafford, S., van Ryn, S., Ward, E., Whiting, R., Wilson-van Duin, M., Wu, Z., Purdie, G., van der Deen, F. S., Thomson, G., Pearson, A. L., & Wilson, N. (2014). Observational study of the visibility of branded tobacco packaging and smoking at outdoor bars/cafés in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1404). Retrieved from

Thomson, G., Oliver, J., & Wilson, N. (2014). Trends in smoking in vehicles at a local community-level in New Zealand: Wainuiomata 2005–2013. New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1397). Retrieved from

Jaine, R., Russell, M., Edwards, R., & Thomson, G. (2014). New Zealand tobacco retailers’ attitudes to selling tobacco, point-of-sale display bans and other tobacco control measures: A qualitative analysis. New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1396). Retrieved from

Pearson, A. L., Nutsford, D., & Thomson, G. (2014). Measuring visual exposure to smoking behaviours: A viewshed analysis of smoking at outdoor bars and cafés across a capital city's downtown area. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 300. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-300

Collinson, L., Wilson, N., & Thomson, G. (2014). Violent deaths of media workers associated with conflict in Iraq, 2003-2012. PeerJ, 2, e390. doi: 10.7717/peerj.390

Duignan, M., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2014). "Good intentions, but inadequate practices": Sun protection in early childhood centres: A qualitative study from New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1389). Retrieved from

Chan, J., Burnett, T., Baillie, R., Blomfield, S., Cameron-Christie, P., Dickson, J., Fleischl, W., Gandhi, S., Gordon, K., Heo, J., Kesy, A., Kao, A. Y., Kenny, C., Knight, A., Wilson, N., & Thomson, G. (2014). Smoking in outdoor areas of bars and cafés: Large differences between midday and evening prevalences. Drugs: Education, Prevention, & Policy, 21(6), 484-488. doi: 10.3109/09687637.2014.917273

Thomson, G., Russell, M., Jenkin, G., Patel, V., & Wilson, N. (2013). Informing outdoor smokefree policy: Methods for measuring the proportion of people smoking in outdoor public areas. Health & Place, 20, 19-24. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.11.006

Patel, V., Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2013). Objective measurement of area differences in 'private' smoking behaviour: Observing smoking in vehicles. Tobacco Control, 22, 130-135. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050119

McCool, J., Hoek, J., Edwards, R., Thomson, G., & Gifford, H. (2013). Crossing the smoking divide for young adults: Expressions of stigma and identity among smokers and nonsmokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 15(2), 552-556. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts136

Edwards, R., Wilson, N., Peace, J., Weerasekera, D., Thomson, G. W., & Gifford, H. (2013). Support for a tobacco endgame and increased regulation of the tobacco industry among New Zealand smokers: Results from a National Survey. Tobacco Control, 22, e86-e93. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050324

Wilson, N., Summers, J. A., Baker, M. G., Thomson, G., & Harper, G. (2013). Fatal injury epidemiology among the New Zealand military forces in the First World War. New Zealand Medical Journal, 126(1385). Retrieved from

Patel, V., Thomson, G. W., & Wilson, N. (2013). Cigarette butt littering in city streets: A new methodology for studying and results. Tobacco Control, 22, 59-62. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050529

Wilson, N., Thomson, G. W., Edwards, R., & Blakely, T. (2013). Potential advantages and disadvantages of an endgame strategy: A 'sinking lid' on tobacco supply. Tobacco Control, 22(Suppl. 1), i18-i21. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050791

Walton, M., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2013). Public policy to promote healthy nutrition in schools: Views of policymakers. Health Education Journal, 72(3), 283-291. doi: 10.1177/0017896912442950

Patel, V., Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2013). Attitudes of business people to proposed smokefree shopping streets. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 15(1), 287-290. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts115

Patel, V., Nowostawski, M., Thomson, G., Wilson, N., & Medlin, H. (2013). Developing a smartphone 'app' for public health research: The example of measuring observed smoking in vehicles. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 67, 446-452. doi: 10.1136/jech-2012-201774

Edwards, R., Peace, J., Russell, M., Gifford, H., Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2012). Qualitative exploration of public and smoker understanding of, and reactions to, an endgame solution to the tobacco epidemic. BMC Public Health, 12, 782. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-782

Jenkin, G., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2012). Nutrition policy in whose interests? A New Zealand case study. Public Health Nutrition, 15(8), 1483-1488. doi: 10.1017/s1368980011003028

Hoek, J., Gendall, P., Gifford, H., Pirikahu, G., McCool, J., Pene, G., Edwards, R., & Thomson, G. (2012). Tobacco branding, plain packaging, pictorial warnings, and symbolic consumption. Qualitative Health Research, 22(5), 630-639. doi: 10.1177/1049732311431070

Hoek, J., Vaudrey, R., Gendall, P., Edwards, R., & Thomson, G. (2012). Tobacco retail displays: A comparison of industry arguments and retailers' experiences. Tobacco Control, 21(5), 497-501. doi: 10.1136/tc.2011.043687

Patel, V., Thomson, G., & Wilson, N. (2012). Smoking increases air pollution levels in city streets: Observational and fine particulate data. Health & Place, 18(5), 1202-1205. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.05.005

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