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Key areas of tobacco control research

  • Evaluation of policy interventions for tobacco control
  • The environmental influences on smoking and smoking-related behaviours
  • The relationship between tobacco use and health inequalities, and the ways that tobacco control can reduce health inequalities.
  • The impact of second-hand smoke on health and its control
  • The behaviour and regulation of the tobacco industry
  • Investigation of how tobacco control policy is formed and implemented by governments.

The tobacco control research team

Other investigators with an interest in this area of research include:

Read about the HePPRU tobacco control research team in He Kitenga - Smokescreen.

Examples of current and recently completed tobacco control research

Evaluation of the 2003 Smokefree Environments Amendment Act

This was a multifaceted evaluation commissioned by the Ministry of Health and carried in collaboration with colleagues at the School of Population Health (The University of Auckland), The Health Sponsorship Council, and Whakauae Research Services. The evaluation was generally highly positive about the impact of the 2003 Act and the way in which it had been implemented.

However, the evaluation revealed several areas for further policy-orientated research:

  • What is the degree of SHS exposure in cars and how common is smoking in cars, particularly in the presence of children? Is further legislation justified?
  • What is the degree of exposure of staff and non-smoking customers to SHS in outdoor smoking areas? Is tightening of the current legislation required?

Publications related to this research

Point-of-sale displays

The main source of advertising and marketing of tobacco products in New Zealand is through point-of-sale advertising. Research commissioned by the Cancer Society and carried out be a team of medical students supervised by members of the unit has shown that the current legislation is poorly enforced and breeches are common. Further research to evaluate the current legislation and any subsequent changes is required.

Publications related to this research

Members of HePPRU are now involved with a programme of research and reviews investigating this issue further. This includes:

Tobacco Taxation

The single most important intervention to reduce smoking prevalence is price increases through tobacco taxation. The Smokefree Coalition and New Zealand ASH have commissioned a report led by researchers from the Department of Public Health (Des O'Dea, lead researcher) to investigate the economic costs of tobacco smoking and the case for increases in tobacco taxation and the dedication of tobacco tax revenue to health-related funding.

The preliminary findings were presented at a seminar in Auckland in August 2007, and the full reports are linked to below:

Observation Study

Poorer smokers smoke cigarettes closer to the butt

Smokers in poorer suburbs appear to smoke their cigarettes closer to the butt. This is the conclusion of a recently published study by the University of Otago, Wellington which looked at the smoking patterns in Wellington suburbs with different socio-economic status.

Publications related to this research

  • Patel V, Thomson G, Wilson N. Objective measurement of area differences in 'private' smoking behaviour: Observing smoking in vehicles. Tob Control Online December 1, 2011
  • Patel V, Thomson G, Wilson N. Smoking increases air pollution levels in city streets: Observational and fine particulate data. Health and Place Online May 29, 2012. DOI : 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.05.005
  • Patel V, Thomson G, Wilson N. Attitudes of business people to proposed smokefree shopping streets. Nicotine & Tob Res 2012: doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts115

International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Survey (the ITC Project – NZ arm)

This is the New Zealand arm of an international collaborative project which aims to explore the impact of national level tobacco control policies through analysis of changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours among cohorts of smokers.

The New Zealand arm is unique in recruiting smokers from an existing national health survey, allowing cross-linkage to detailed health and social data, and in having a large sample of smokers from indigenous people, New Zealand Māori.

The study is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Principal Investigator is Associate Professor Nick Wilson.

Further information can be found at the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Survey (the ITC Project – NZ arm) webpage.

Daring to Dream: pursuing the endgame in tobacco control  

The aim of this recently completed project was to develop and explore ways of framing and communicating to key audiences radical proposals for structural reform to facilitate the introduction of more effective tobacco control policies.

This project was funded by the Marsden Fund and the Principal Investigator was Professor Richard Edwards.

Members of the project research team include:

Further information can be found at The Daring to Dream webpage.

Developing Strategies to reduce smoking uptake and SHS exposure of NZ Children  

This project is funded by the Health Research Council. The aim is to develop theoretically and empirically coherent models of the influences on smoking initiation and secondhand smoke exposure among children and young people, including assessing the influence of parents and care-givers.

These models will be used to develop intervention strategies for Māori communities, which will be tested for feasibility with representatives of those communities.

The Principal Investigator is Professor Richard Edwards.

The Smokefree Project: Policy decision making for smokefree kids  

The aim of this Health Research Council funded project is to examine the issues and attitudes around policy processes for smokefree places for children, both at a national and local body level.

To do this we used official and other documents (including media accounts), and in-depth interviews. These interviews were conducted between 2007 and 2009 with a range of groups including politicians (MPs, local body councillors and District Health Board members), and senior government and NGO officials. The project started in October 2007, and will run until late 2010. It has three arms – mainstream, Maori and Pacific.

Our findings show strong public support by New Zealanders for smokefree policies… but what do the policymakers think?

Members of the project research team include:

Watch the TVNZ coverage of our November NZMJ letter on smoker approval of smokefree cars for pre-school children (there is a 15 second advertisement before the 1 minute 44 sec clip)

Further information can be found on The Smokefree Project: Policy decision-making for smokefree kids webpage.

Arguments about and reviews of international attitudes to smokefree areas

These opinion articles and reviews include:

Please also see:

The Public Health and New Zealand history webpage

The Tobacco publications webpage

Related Info


Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington
PO Box 7343
Wellington South 6242
New Zealand

Tel: +64 4 385 5541 ext 6040
Fax: +64 4 389 5319
Email: or,

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