Background High smoking rates among Pacific people living within New Zealand (26.9%) are a significant and poorly understood problem. A proposed approach to tobacco control is to enhance restrictions on or ban duty-free sales, a pertinent notion for Pacific people given their frequent travel between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. This study examines the purchase and distribution of duty-free tobacco by Pacific people, whether it is being used as a strategy to circumvent the tobacco excise tax increases and how duty-free cigarette sales are perceived within the Pacific community.
Methods We undertook a qualitative research study using six focus groups with Pacific smokers and non-smokers aged between 18 and 54 years. Half of the focus groups consisted of smokers and half non-smokers. We used a thematic analysis approach to identify, explore and report key themes within the data.
Results Pacific smokers and non-smokers frequently purchase duty-free tobacco when travelling, and the usage of duty-free cigarettes for gift giving is a strongly embedded cultural value for Pacific peoples. However, nearly all participants strongly supported a proposal to reduce or ban duty-free tobacco sales.
Conclusions The findings suggest a ban on duty-free sales could be an important measure to help achieve the smokefree 2025 goal among Pacific communities in New Zealand. This measure would eliminate duty-free tobacco as a cheap form of supply, and efforts to denormalise the practice of gifting duty-free tobacco among Pacific people may also be helpful in reducing high prevalence rates within these communities.
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