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Smokefree May: ‘We’re Backing You’ - join the movement

Following the establishment of the Smokefree 2025 goal in 2011, Hāpai Te Hauora chose to adopt this month as Smokefree May, culminating with World Smokefree Day on May 31.

Leitu Tufuga (National Team Lead for Tobacco Control Advocacy Service, Hāpai Te Hauora) writes about how Smokefree May came about, its objectives and theme and what it has to offer across the motu including a range of events, resources and support services.

World Smokefree Day, internationally known as World No Tobacco Day, was formed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987 to draw worldwide awareness to the exponential harm and preventable death caused directly and  indirectly from tobacco.

As a treaty partner to the World Health Organizations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) since 2004, Aotearoa New Zealand is one of 182 countries that has committed to this evidence-based treaty that affirms people’s rights to optimal health and wellbeing and the importance of protecting future generations from Big Tobacco.

Because of the multi-faceted impact tobacco has on society, the annual date of May 31st is used globally to promote the widespread dangers of tobacco harm, and to encourage people who smoke to embark on a journey to quit smoking.

Every year the WHO sets a theme, and the international theme for 2023 is ‘We need food, not tobacco’, focused on growing sustainable food crops instead of tobacco.  Tobacco companies have been exploiting Low-and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) who do not have the infrastructure or regulations to restrict the growing of tobacco on farmlands that could be better used for food, believed to be around 4 million hectares(ha), larger than the size of the country of Rwanda.[i]

Aotearoa New Zealand supports the international campaign, however our national themes have been more targeted and reflective of supporting our whānau, while still complementing the international campaign.

The Smokefree 2025 goal was introduced in 2011, as a result of the Māori Affairs Select Committee’s Inquiry into the Tobacco Industry report[ii], that reported the greatest burden of tobacco diseases fell on Māori. A target was set to see 5% of less of the population smoking by 2025.  Following the establishment of this goal, Hāpai Te Hauora chose to adopt the whole month of May as Smokefree May.

The theme for Aotearoa - “We’re Backing You”, is supported by the whakatauki; “Taituara, Taiwhare, Taieke”, translated means; With backing, even the tallest of oceans waves can be conquered.

This theme was gifted by rangatahi who Hāpai had consulted with, and it emphasises the importance of havingwider support to help achieve the goal to quit smoking. The objective is to promote whanaungatanga and the necessary wrap-around support by whānau and health professionals to help whānau see out their aspirations to become smokefree. Our whānau networks, community services, and policy makers are all significant drivers of this kaupapa.

World Smokefree May has a lot to offer across the motu including a range of different events that are taking place in  different regions. Hāpai Te Hauora has several smokefree activators who are based in these different regions who engage with their communities to support them in delivering targeted events that are responsive to the needs of their whānau and hapori.

This year we have supplied a range of great resources to support our communities who are promoting the campaign. We are running an online ‘Quit to Win’ prize incentive, to back our whānau who may be wanting to start their quit journey and sign up to a Stop Smoking Service Provider(SSSP). Along with the support they will receive from their SSSP, they will also go into the draw to win weekly prizes throughout the month of May, and a chance to win the grand prize at the end of the month worth $5000.

If people would like more information, resources, and access to the calendar of events they can click on this link Alternatively, go to our Facebook and Instagram page, where you can find more information about the campaign,  updates on weekly prize winners and events and social media posts promoting the “Were Backing You” theme.

Banner Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash


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