To mark the day this year, Hāpai Te Hauora shares what ‘smokefree’ means to the people of Aotearoa. Hāpai is leading a campaign that asks Facebook users, whānau and friends to answer the question "What does smokefree mean to me?"

Hāpai has asked tamariki, rangatahi and whānau as well as health workers and academics to share their stories and opinions.

Tanya Matiu-Rameka, a mum of three, working as a caregiver and living in Northland says, "to me smokefree means healthier, cleaner lungs and body. More money for food and ultimately, not having to rely on something." Tanya is sharing her story to help her reach her goal of giving up smoking in 2020.

Selah Hart, CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora says "We created this campaign in the first week of Covid-19 Level 4 to contribute to the message of being kind and to lead a fun campaign to raise awareness about being smokefree. So, we want to hear and promote community voices. I am really pleased the team at Hāpai Te Hauora decided to run this month long national campaign ahead of World Smokefree Day."

The Cancer Society is also supporting the Hāpai World Smokefree Day campaign with social media and online opportunities. Shayne Nahu, Cancer Society Advocacy and Wellbeing Manager (Te Arawa, Tainui, Irish) says "When my whānau and community are smokefree they are fitter, stronger and doing great things. It’s also important for my work here at the Cancer Society. If there are more people who are smokefree, then there will be fewer people for us to support through the terrible costs of cancers caused by tobacco. Smokefree 2025, we can do this!"

Aotearoa has come a long way in its smokefree journey. Banning tobacco sponsorship and advertising, outlawing the sale of single cigarettes and recent plain packaging laws have all helped reduce smoking rates.

Evidence shows that New Zealand at its current rate will not achieve the country’s aspirational goal of becoming a smokefree country by 2025 without a really concerted effort and political support. That’s why Hāpai is ensuring we hear from communities about how a smokefree life could be -- or already is.

Hāpai asked the Hon. Jenny Salesa to describe what smokefree means to her as Associate Minister of Health. In a written statement, she replied "Smokefree means empowering our communities, especially our Māori and Pacific communities, to lead healthier, longer lives and support their whānau to do the same."

Stephanie Erick, General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service at Hāpai says talking to communities is essential. "The people living the daily reality should lead the conversation, and the Government, regional and local officials need to be listening and implementing supportive actions and measures to move us forward."

Stephanie hopes that people will help each other come on board for the smokefree journey and if possible join in with our online campaign. "We know that internet access and device access isn’t a given. We know that not everyone can jump online and have their say. But together we can lift each other up to be heard."