Tob Control 22:395-400 doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050398
  • Research paper

‘The times are changing’: New Zealand smokers' perceptions of the tobacco endgame

Editor's Choice
  1. Rhiannon Newcombe5
  1. 1Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  3. 3Whakauae Research Services, Whanganui, New Zealand
  4. 4Tala Pasifika, Auckland, New Zealand
  5. 5Health Sponsorship Council, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ninya Maubach, Department of Marketing, University of Otago, P O Box 7343, Wellington 6242, New Zealand; ninya.maubach{at}
  1. Contributors NBM and JAH jointly designed and led the research; HG, SE, RE and RN provided detailed feedback on draft protocols and stimuli. NBM, JAH, HG and SE undertook the data collection and independently reviewed resulting transcripts. NBM and JAH jointly developed the initial manuscript draft; JAH and NBM revised the manuscript in line with reviewers' suggestions; RE, HG, SE and RN provided detailed feedback on drafts. All authors approved the submitted manuscript version.

  • Received 20 December 2011
  • Accepted 10 May 2012
  • Published Online First 16 June 2012


Background The New Zealand government's goal of achieving a smoke-free society by 2025 reflects growing interest in ‘endgame’ solutions to tobacco smoking. However, tobacco companies have framed ‘endgame’ strategies as contrary to individual freedoms and ‘choice’; these claims heighten politicians' sensitivity to ‘nanny state’ allegations and may undermine tobacco control policies. Public support for stronger policies could strengthen political will; however, little is known about how smokers perceive endgame scenarios or the factors underlying their support or opposition to these.

Methods The authors conducted 47 in-depth interviews with four priority groups: Māori, Pacific, young adults and pregnant women; all were smokers or very recent quitters. The authors used thematic analysis to interpret the transcripts.

Results Most participants strongly supported the 2025 smoke-free goal, recognised the broader social good that would result and accepted the personal inconvenience of quitting. Yet they wanted to retain control over when and how they would quit and asserted their ‘freedom’ to smoke. Participants identified interventions that would extend current policy and maintain the autonomy they valued; the authors classified these into four themes: restricting supply, diminishing visibility, decreasing availability and affordability, and increasing quit support.

Conclusions Politicians may have a stronger mandate to implement endgame policies than they appreciate. Participants' use of industry arguments when asserting their freedom to ‘choose’ to smoke and quit suggests a need for denormalisation strategies that challenge industry propaganda, demonstrate how endgame measures would empower smokers and re-iterate the community benefits a smoke-free society will deliver.


  • All authors are members of the ASPIRE2025 collaboration (

  • Funding This study was supported by New Zealand Ministry of Health.

  • Competing interests Although we do not consider it a competing interest, for the sake of full disclosure, we note that all authors have undertaken work for the New Zealand Ministry of Health; JAH, RE, HG and SE have also undertaken work for tobacco control NGOs and have received funding for tobacco control research from the Royal Society Marsden Fund and Health Research Council of New Zealand.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the University of Otago Human Ethics, Category B (Department of Marketing Ethics Administrator).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The qualitative data for this study were collected as part of a larger project for the New Zealand Ministry of Health. Additional unpublished data will be used in reporting to the ministry and may also be published in academic journals. Under the terms of informed consent signed by participants, only the immediate research team is granted permission to view the raw data.

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