Malaysia’s Smoking Rates Stagnate as New Zealand Halves Smoking Through Vaping

8 July 2024, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — New Zealand’s approach to smoke free nicotine alternatives has halved smoking rates in just five years while Malaysia continues to have 5 million smokers, according to Smoke Free Sweden.

A new report authored by New Zealand’s Dr Marewa Glover for Smoke Free Sweden, highlights the critical role of vaping in New Zealand’s public health transformation and offers a path forward for Malaysia, where hostility and misinformation continue to dominate and keep smoking rates high, at 17%.

In 2018, 13.3% of New Zealanders smoked. By 2023, this dropped to 6.8%. In the early 1980s, one in three Kiwis smoked. This success is due to making vapes accessible, affordable, and accepted as less harmful alternatives.

New Zealand’s government, recognizing that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, has endorsed it to help smokers quit. Vapes are legal, widely available in various flavours and nicotine strengths, and affordable due to low taxes.

Urgent policy changes in Malaysia to make safer alternatives accessible, available, and affordable have the potential to save the lives of the more than 5 million smokers in the country.

Dr Delon Human, leader of Smoke Free Sweden said:

New Zealand and Sweden’s successes have shown that making safer alternatives accessible, acceptable and affordable can reduce smoking rates. Malaysia needs to recognize tobacco harm reduction as key to public health and saving lives.

Notes to editors


Smoke Free Sweden

Jessica Perkins


About Smoke Free Sweden

Smoke Free Sweden is a movement that encourages other countries to follow the Swedish experience when it comes to Tobacco Harm Reduction. Sweden is about to become the first ‘smoke free’ European country, with a smoking rate below 5 percent. This remarkable achievement can be attributed to Sweden’s open attitude towards alternative nicotine products.

For more information on Sweden’s successful approach to becoming a smoke free nation, please visit