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Definition

Definition

Cigarette smoking refers to the active smoking of one or more manufactured or hand rolled tobacco cigarettes, from purchased or home grown tobacco, per day.

The term smoking refers to active smoking behaviour, that is, the intentional inhalation of tobacco smoke. Smoking does not refer to or include passive smoking (the unintentional inhalation of tobacco smoke).

Cigarette smoking does not include:

  • the smoking of tobacco in cigars, pipes and cigarillos;
  • the smoking of any other substances, e.g. herbal cigarettes or marijuana; or
  • the consumption of tobacco products by other means, such as chewing.

Operational issues

Age restrictions on the sale of tobacco products

Until 1988 it was illegal to sell tobacco products to those under the age of 15. From 1988, under the Toxic Substances Act, it was illegal to sell tobacco products to a person under the age of 16 and, in 1997, this age was raised to 18 years in the Smokefree Environments Amendment Act 1997. However, this does not necessarily mean that people under the age of 18 do not purchase or smoke tobacco products.

Age of respondents

In past Censuses of Population and Dwellings, question(s) on cigarette smoking behaviour have been asked of respondents aged 15 years and over. Most other surveys also limit their scope to the 15 years of age and over population. It is therefore recommended that the cigarette smoking behaviour question is at least asked of people 15 years and over to facilitate comparisons with historical and other survey data, although some surveys may choose to ask the cigarette smoking behaviour question of people under 15 years of age.

Constraints on response

There may be some constraints on response to the cigarette smoking behaviour question. Respondents may be defensive about answering it or unaware of why the question is asked. Some respondents may not wish to reveal their cigarette smoking behaviour because of its social undesirability or because they do not want other household members to know about it. Age restrictions on the sale of tobacco products may also affect the reported smoking behaviour and non–response rates of people aged under 18.

Composition of the 'never smoked regularly' output category

It is unclear how occasional smokers, who smoke less than one cigarette per day, respond to the cigarette smoking behaviour question. The 'never smoked regularly' category may include occasional or social smokers who smoke less than one cigarette per day as well as those who may have experimented with cigarette smoking but never considered themselves habitual smokers.

Explanatory notes

Excluded from the statistical concept of cigarette smoking are the following concepts.

(1) Dosage

Information on the dosage of cigarette smoking (ie the number of cigarettes smoked) is not included in this standard for two main reasons. First, there is some unreliability and a high level of non–response for this variable, and second, there is difficulty in establishing consumption equivalences between cigars, cigarillo and pipe tobacco (as they have varying tobacco contents) and cigarettes.

(2) Passive smoking

Passive smoking is excluded from the statistical concept of cigarette smoking, as it does not involve the intentional inhalation of tobacco smoke.

(3) Cigar, cigarillo and pipe tobacco

Cigar, cigarillo, and pipe tobacco are all tobacco products with associated health risks. They are excluded for two main reasons; the differences in the health–risks associated with these forms of smoking compared with cigarette smoking; and to achieve consistency with previous census questions which have asked about the smoking of manufactured or hand–rolled cigarettes.

(4) Illegal substances

The smoking of any and all illegal substances, including marijuana, opium etc is excluded from the statistical concept of cigarette smoking.

(5) Other substances

The smoking of all other substances including non–tobacco herbal cigarettes is excluded from the statistical concept of cigarette smoking.

(6) Consumption by other means

The consumption of tobacco products by other means, such as chewing, is also excluded from the statistical concept of cigarette smoking.

Previous questions on cigarette smoking behaviour

Statistics New Zealand (Statistics NZ) first collected information about cigarette smoking behaviour in the 1976 Census of Population and Dwellings, then again in the 1981 Census. The topic was not included in any further Statistics NZ surveys until 1992/93 when a question on tobacco smoking was included in the Household Health Survey (HHS), a sample survey conducted in conjunction with the then Department of Health. A question on cigarette smoking behaviour was also included in the 2006 Census, and was consistent with this standard.

Caution should be exercised when attempting comparisons between data on tobacco smoking behaviour from the 1993 HHS and other Statistics NZ surveys consistent which are with this standard owing to differences in the methodology in the surveys and the questions asked.

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