Smokers strongly support tighter regulation of the tobacco industry and almost half support an outright ban within a decade, Otago University research has found.

The newly published study found 65 per cent of more than 1300 smokers agreed tobacco companies should be more tightly regulated.

Support for tighter regulation was stronger among Maori, with 70 per cent in favour, and Pacific Islanders, with 74 per cent.

Smokers under financial pressure were also more likely to agree.


Almost half of smokers also supported banning commercial tobacco sales in 10 years if effective nicotine substitutes were available.

Of the 921 smokers asked about a ban, 46 per cent were in favour. Pacific smokers were strongly in favour of a ban, with 62 per cent in support.

The study also found many smokers thought the Government should do more to tackle the harms of smoking, with 59 per cent in agreement. Maori and Pacific smokers showed strong support, with 66 per cent and 78 per cent support respectively in agreement.

The survey was conducted between 2007 and 2009, before the Government agreed to the recommendations of a Maori Affairs select committee report on the tobacco industry that said New Zealand should adopt the goal of becoming smokefree by 2025.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Edwards said because the survey was conducted before the idea of tobacco use was publicly discussed in New Zealand, support would likely be even greater now.

Co-author Heather Gifford, a tobacco control expert at Whakauae Research Services, said the findings were consistent with international research that showed the public and smokers wanted clear leadership and action by governments to stop the tobacco epidemic.

She said previous New Zealand research showed a similar level of support for other measures such as plain packaging of tobacco products and a ban on smoking in cars.

"We are seeing clear leadership from the Associate Minister of Health in the regulatory areas of smoking in cars and plain packs,'' Dr Gifford said.


"But such leadership needs to expand to across the political spectrum and include iwi and community wide leadership supporting such courageous moves.''

The research by Aspire 2025, a collaboration between research groups committed to the 2025 tobacco-free goal, was funded by the Health Research Council and published in the international peer-reviewed journal Tobacco Control.