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A gift and a burden: the purchase and distribution of duty-free tobacco and its potential impact upon Pacific people in New Zealand
  1. El-Shadan Tautolo1,
  2. Richard Edwards2,
  3. Heather Gifford3
  1. 1Centre for Pacific Health & Development, Pacific Islands Families Study, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. 2School of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  3. 3Whakauae Research for Māori Health & Development, Whanganui, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr El-Shadan Tautolo, Centre for Pacific Health & Development Research, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, AUT University, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1020, New Zealand; dan.tautolo{at}


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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