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Article | Smoking prevalence among doctors and nurses—2013 New Zealand census data

Overview

This study, led by University of Otago in collaboration with the Health Promotion Agency, examined recent smoking trends among doctors and nurses in New Zealand using recent census data. It found that smoking had declined steadily and by 2013 only 2% of male and female doctors and 9% of male and 8% of female nurses were regular cigarette smokers. Smoking was more common among Māori doctors (7%) and nurses (19%), and also among psychiatric nurses. The findings suggest that New Zealand doctors had achieved the Smokefree 2025 goal of minimal (<5%) smoking prevalence and all nurses except psychiatric nurses were on track to do so. Targeted workplace smoking cessation support could be used to reduce smoking among key occupational groups such as Māori nurses.

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Abstract

Aim

To examine recent smoking trends among doctors and nurses in New Zealand.

Method

Analysis of smoking prevalence in the 2013 New Zealand Census and comparison with previous census data.

Results

The 2013 census included 7,065 male and 5,619 female doctors, and 2,988 male and 36,138 female nurses. Non-response to smoking questions was less than 3%. In 2013, 2% of male and female doctors and 9% of male and 8% of female nurses were regular cigarette smokers. This compared with 4% male and 3% female doctors, and 20% male and 13% female nurses in 2006. Psychiatric nurses had the highest smoking prevalence (15% male, 18% female). More Māori doctors (6.8%) and nurses (19.3%) smoked. Around 96% of young (<25 years) doctors and 87% of young nurses had never been regular smokers.

Conclusion

By 2013, New Zealand doctors had achieved the Smokefree 2025 goal of minimal (<5%) smoking prevalence and all nurses except psychiatric nurses were on track to do so. This suggests smokefree cultures can be established among substantial occupational groups. However, smoking among Māori nurses was relatively high. Targeted workplace smoking cessation support may be an efficient means to reduce smoking among key occupational groups, and may help reduce population smoking prevalence.

Citation

Edwards, R., Tu, D., Stanley, J., Martin, G., Gifford, H., Newcombe, R. (2018) Smoking prevalence among doctors and nurses—2013 New Zealand census data. New Zealand Medical Journal Volume 131 Number 1471.

For more information or to request a copy of the paper, please contact:

Professor Richard Edwards
University of Otago, Wellington
email richard.edwards@otago.ac.nz