Rotorua residents are divided on a proposal to ban cigarettes, with one local smoker saying it would be "the end of the world" while a former smoker supports nicotine vaping as a cheaper alternative.

MPs were told earlier this week by Hapai Te Hauora that the Government would have to ban the sale of cigarettes if it wanted to reach its goal of making New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

Rotorua man Evan Hutchinson gave up smoking in favour of vaping four months ago.

As a smoker he was spending about $70 a week and had "tried it all" in attempts to break the habit.

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"With vaping I guess you still get the habit of lifting something to your mouth."

Hutchinson has used nicotine vaping fluids to reduce his nicotine consumption and said he would recommend it to others.

"I've got a bag of goodies for my son I couldn't afford if I was still smoking."

He said he agreed the only way to remove smoking would be to ban cigarettes.

Ministry of Health figures show nearly 16 per cent of New Zealanders smoke, a rate which has fallen from 20.1 per cent in 2006.

In his briefing on the Smokefree 2025 target Hapai Te Hauora chief executive Lance Norman said there was no way the target would be reached on existing settings.

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The smoke-free target set by the Government requires smoking rates to fall below 5 per cent by 2025.

Norman proposed a more aggressive strategy which would require passing legislation almost immediately to outlaw the sale of cigarettes in 2025.

Rotorua's William Corbett has been smoking since he was 19 and said a ban on cigarettes would be "the end of the world".

"I think vapes are a lot more versatile, but I want the real thing."

Corbett said if cigarettes were taken away then he would quit.

Kuldip Kaur is the owner at Hillcrest Dairy, which has been robbed twice this year for cigarettes.

The first incident in February was by a person wielding a knife, then in March two men armed with hammers stole cash and damaged a cigarette cabinet.

Kaur said the robberies weren't a good enough reason to stop selling cigarettes.

"A lot of people come in just for their smokes, then end up buying a pie, a drink, some lollies.

"If we didn't have smokes we would definitely see an impact on our business."

Since the price of smoking went up the sales had not reduced, Kaur said.

"People have just switched to cheaper brands rather than stopping."

Kaur said she wouldn't want to stock vape products, even if cigarettes were banned.

The Cloud House manager Ren Turei said banning cigarettes was a given.

"If legislation passes to allow nicotine vaping that makes it easier to cut cigarettes out."

Turei said the main goal with vaping was to help people quit. He acknowledged there was a negative culture around vaping, however the cost outweighed that.

"It does look a bit geeky, but an initial start-up is less than a week's worth of cigarettes.

"Then the juice is $6 to $10 for a bottle, it's a lot cheaper and a lot healthier."

Smoking in NZ
• 600,000 adults (15.7 per cent) in New Zealand smoke, down from 20.1 per cent in 2006.
• 35 per cent of Māori adults smoke, down from 42 per cent in 2006
• 24 per cent of Pacific adults smoke, down from 27 per cent in 2006
• Smoking rates among younger adult are falling, but there has been no significant change for adults since 2011.