Rather someone with a criminal past than a smoker

Study reveals preference of Kiwi partners  and other ‘bad habits’

Psychologist Sara Chatwin

Auckland, October 30, 2020

New Zealanders find smoking more unattractive in a potential partner than a criminal record according to new research. 

The survey also highlighted a number of bad habits that have intensified as a result of the pandemic including nail-biting and workaholism.

The Shosha study of 1000 adult respondents nationwide, carried out by an independent research firm, found that being a smoker was the least attractive trait in a partner for almost four in 10 (38%) Kiwis. 

Other repulsions

Having a criminal past was considered unattractive by more than a quarter (28%) of New Zealanders while bad breath (21%), and bad skin (5%) also featured. Kiwis are more tolerant of dandruff in prospective partners with just 2% believing this to be the most unappealing feature.

The research also found when it comes to the barriers to having a healthier lifestyle, overeating was the most likely habit Kiwis wanted to change rated highest by 38% of survey respondents. 

Excess consumption of alcohol was the next most likely vice (13%), followed by workaholism (12%), nail biting (12%) and smoking (10%).

Less than a third (31%) of adults say they have no habits they want to break.

Nabhik Gupta (Spokesperson for Shosha)

Impact of Covid-19

The impact of the pandemic has increased the level at which some habits have a negative impact on a healthy lifestyle. In particular almost half (46%) of Kiwis say their alcohol consumption has increased, 45% say they are overeating more, 39% are smoking more, 37% of workaholics say they are working more and 31% of nail biters have increased the frequency of this habit. 

The research also investigated the consumption of e-cigarettes with almost a quarter (24%) of adult New Zealanders having tried vaping at some stage. The study found 13% of adults had used e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid while 11% had tried it for another reason. 

Males were more likely than females to have used electronic cigarettes to quit smoking (16% vs 11%) while females were more likely to have vaped for another reason (12% vs 11%).

Almost half (49%) of males would advise a friend or family member to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking – compared to 40% of females and a national average of 44%. 

Emphasis on good health

Psychologist Sara Chatwin said that it is interesting to see how offensive Kiwis find smoking and that it ‘flies in face of the emphasis we put on good health.’

“The odour of smoke hangs around on skin and clothing and that’s pretty unattractive. I think that the smell has a lot to do with it too; people are reluctant to want to kiss a smoker as they may not enjoy the taste, similarly addiction or dependence is not attractive for many people,” she said. 

Ms Chatwin said that the increase in habits such as over-eating, nail-biting, excessive consumption of alcohol and workaholism were all covert coping mechanisms that were easy to hide while in lockdown or at restricted social levels. 

Increased anxiety levels

“Kiwis have had more time on their hands and their anxiety levels seem to have increased so many looked for these things to provide them with some comfort during the trying times. People tend to be resistant to change and often allow bad habits to kick in during times of stress,” she says. 

Nabhik Gupta, spokesperson for Shosha, the country’s largest retailer of e-cigarettes, who commissioned the research to understand better the barriers to smoking cessation, said that it is concerning to see increased consumption of cigarettes as a result of the pandemic.

“We know that stress is a key factor in cigarette consumption and a prolonged period of uncertainty such as the pandemic may exacerbate these cravings. What we need to be concerned about as a nation is the impact of excessive consumption of carcinogens such as cigarettes and alcohol on the long-term health outcomes of New Zealanders,” he said.

The online survey was conducted in August 2020 using a nationwide sampling framework. The results are then weighted to Statistics New Zealand census gender, age and location to give a representative sample of the population.

The above Report has been sponsored by



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