Second-hand smoke exposure
This page presents data and statistics on exposure to second-hand smoke in New Zealand. You can download factsheets from the Downloads box.
Second-hand smoke is a major cause of indoor air pollution in New Zealand. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes illness and premature death in both children and adults [1,2].
On this page
Over 150,000 people exposed to second-hand smoke
Large drop in exposure to second-hand smoke
Young adults and children are more likely to be exposed
Māori are more affected
Rates higher in more deprived areas
Fewer mothers are smoking at two weeks after birth
Health effects from second-hand smoke
Burden of disease from second-hand smoke
Information about this data
In 2012/13, over 150,000 New Zealanders were exposed to second-hand smoke in their home .
- 5.0% of children aged 0–14 years (45,000 children)
- 3.7% of non-smoking adults aged 15+ years (106,000 adults).
Fewer children were exposed to second-hand smoke in their home in 2012/13 (5.0%) than in 2006/07 (9.6%).
A similar drop was seen for non-smoking adults, from 7.5% in 2006/07 to 3.7% in 2012/13.
Young adults aged 15–19 years had the highest rates of being exposed to second-hand smoke in their home (9.9%). Older children also had relatively high rates of being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Almost one in ten (9.2%) Māori children were exposed to second-hand smoke. This rate is 2.6 times as high as the rate for non-Māori children, adjusting for age and sex differences.
Among non-smoking adults, Māori also had a higher rate of second-hand smoke exposure (9.4%) than other adults.
Rates of being exposed to second-hand smoke were higher for children living in more socioeconomically deprived areas:
- 1.4% in the least deprived areas (NZDep2006 quintile 1)
- 10.7% in the most deprived areas (NZDep2006 quintile 5)
Non-smoking adults living in high deprivation areas were also more likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke than other people.
See the factsheets for more details (in the downloads box above).
In 2016, 11.7% of mothers who gave birth were smoking at two weeks after birth. The percentage of mothers smoking at two weeks postnatal had decreased from 14.3% in 2010.
Maternal smoking was higher among Māori mothers (31.8%) compared with Pacific mothers (7.0%), European/Other mothers (6.5%) and Asian mothers (0.3%).
Babies of mothers who smoke are at increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) in their first year of life .
See the factsheet for more details (in the downloads box above).
Second-hand smoke can cause poor health, particularly in young children.
In infants and children, second-hand smoke increases the risk of [1,2]:
- lower respiratory tract infections
- sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)
- middle ear infections (otitis media)
- low birth weight.
In non-smoking adults, second-hand smoke increases the risk of:
- ischaemic heart disease
- lung cancer.
An estimated 104 people died from second-hand smoke exposure in New Zealand in 2010 [5,6].
Read more about the health burden due to second-hand smoke exposure.
Information about this data
Exposure to second-hand smoke
Source: 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey, Ministry of Health .
Definition: Exposure to second-hand smoke was asked about in the adult (15+ years) and child (0–14 years) questionnaires of the 2006/07 and 2012/13 New Zealand Health Surveys. The question asked in these surveys was:
- Does anyone smoke inside your house? Yes / No / Don’t know / Refused.
For children aged 0–14 years, a primary caregiver answered the child questionnaire as a proxy for the child. The above questions were reworded to refer to the child. For more information on the New Zealand Health Survey, visit the New Zealand Health Survey website.
Maternal smoking at two weeks postnatal
Source: New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators 2015, Ministry of Health .
Definition: Mothers who reported that they smoked at two weeks after birth, among all mothers who reported a smoking status at two weeks after birth. Year refers to the year of delivery.
1. US Department of Health and Human Services. 2014. The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US Surgeon General. 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services.
2. US Surgeon General. 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services.
3. Ministry of Health. 2014. Tobacco Use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey.Wellington: Ministry of Health.
4. Anderson HR, Cook D. 1997. Passive smoking and sudden infant death syndrome: review of the epidemiological evidence. Thorax, 52, 1003-1009.
5. Mason KM, Borman B. 2016. The burden of disease from second-hand smoke exposure in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 129(1432): 16–25.
6. Mason KM. 2016. The Burden of Disease from Second-hand Smoke in New Zealand. Wellington: Environmental Health Indicators Programme, Massey University.
7. Ministry of Health. 2018. New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators 2016. Wellington: Ministry of Health.