Smokers inundate Quitline

Quitline was inundated today with calls from smokers seeking a fresh start to the new year.

Spokesman Bruce Bassett said more than 400 smokers had been in contact throughout the day.

About 200 people had called into the service and a similar number had been in touch via email and blog, he said. And the online messages are still coming in, Mr Bassett said this afternoon.

"Clearly New Year's resolutions and the [tobacco] tax increase are the things that motivate people to change."

"It's a very, very busy day," he said.

Mr Bassett said the organisation employed extra staff to cope over the holiday period, which is their busiest time of the year.

On a normal Tuesday, Quitline would probably receive only a third of the calls, messages and sign-ups received today, he said.

Staff are bracing themselves for Thursday - the first official day back at work after the New Year's period.

That is the busiest day they experience, Mr Bassett said. "People get back to work and want to make a new start."

Between 8000 and 10,000 people are expected to contact Quitline this month.

Last year, 8222 people signed up to Quitline in January, compared to 9383 in January 2011.

In 2010, only 4966 registered throughout January.

Quitline communications manager Jane MacPherson said the increase between 2010 and 2011 was likely due to the tobacco tax hikes.

"There was no tax increase in 2010."

Today also marked the first of four annual tobacco tax increases. Each year the tax will rise by 10 per cent. Treasury previously said the hikes would result in a packet of 20 cigarettes costing about $20 by 2016.

Smokers trying to come clean this year will probably find the first six months the most challenging, Ms MacPherson said.

Figures show about one-in-five Quitline clients are successful after 12 months.

At six months, the quit rate is 24.2 per cent.

"That tells us it's a really low rate of relapse between six and 12 months," Ms MacPherson said.

About 62,500 people signed up with the Quitline service last year, she said.

Of that, 15,000 are still smoke-free.

SMOKERS

* 17 per cent of NZ adults are currently smokers

* Down from 21 per cent in 2006 and 33 per cent in 1983.

Source: Quitline

COSTLY HABIT

* 11.1 per cent - excise increase today

* $16 - average price of pack of 20

WHO CAN HELP?

* Quitline - 0800 778 778

- additional reporting NZ Herald

- Teuila Fuatai of APNZ

More to it

Don't get me wrong, I agree with initiatives such as raising prices on cigarettes to reduce smoking. But, to make this country 'smokefree' by 2025 is a concern to me.
New Zealand's tourism industry relies heavily on nations that are notoriously known as heavy smokers ... China, USA and the UK and European counties. We cannot afford to lose travellers because they cannot smoke in this country. I suspect a number of you will argue we dont want these kind of people, but tell that to tourism operators and accommodation providers that rely on this travel. Those travelling on the pound and Euro are exactly who we want spending in this country.
There has to be a way to restrict smoking, without risking huge economic impact by banning it outright.

Dictatorship

Rob: Is the government not dictating to the smokers that they must give up by rising prices, while smoking remains legal? While it remains legal we still have freedom of choice and the government has no right to force the decision on the less well off by making them decide between food or smokes. From memory, this inititive was aimed at stopping Maori smoking and now we all have to suffer the end result.

I will not be pressured to give up something that remains legal just because the government says it's bad for my health. That's freedom of choice and that's my decision and I will fight it. That's my right.

Democracy indeed

You could also argue that a democracy is the ultimate in self-serving benefits for the majority, regardless as to what is actually best for the community (the current situation in Greece & the US leaps to mind). NZ is on the same slippery slope where the majority of those adding to the populace are not contributing more than they are extracting from the economy, and this will only snowball as the years go by until we reach a point where democracy will eventually bankrupt us. Is there a happy medium between dictatorship & democracy?

You know it makes sense

Speedfreak - I gave up in May after 30 years of smoking. I don't actually feel any better for it, but you know that it makes sense. The tobacco companies and government just take your money and couldn't care less about your health. Why continue to fund them?

Democracy and dictatorship

Speedfreak. A democracy is where the majority determines what behaviours are acceptable for the benefit of society as a whole. A dictatorship is where you tell society what is acceptable for the benefit of yourself. You appear (as usual) to be advocating the second position.

Tobacco Road

You can do that, but not sell it. Get a hothouse. I honestly think youre having a laugh, holding a 'you' responsible for the maintenance of your family.

Dolly made me do it

"If that means less food for myself and family, so be it. I will hold you solely responsible for this," writes  speedfreak43 who is determined to keep on smoking just to show NZ who's boss. 
It's great to see the new year featuring a great contender for the Responsibility Dodger Award 2013.  I predict an exciting year ahead as others try to outdo this brilliant blame-shifting swerve.  Will they have enough mental agility, sense of entitlement, and teflon-coated nerve required to be real contenders for the title?

And I wasn't one of them

Smoking is still legal in this country and so is freedom of choice. The more you try to make me quit, the more determined I am to keep smoking. If that means less food for myself and family, so be it. I will hold you solely responsible for this.
Is it still a democracy here or is it now a dictatorship?  I'm fairly sure that the majority of smokers are not from the wealthy sector so what is up with hitting the poorer sector with more costs? To the majority of the poorer smokers, this is the one small piece of enjoyment they get, and hitting their pockets will not stop them smoking but will only result in less for the children.
Maybe today I will go to the garden shop and buy some tobacco seeds and grow my own. I believe the cost for 100 seeds is around $3.50. Thats a tax take of 52.5 cents (gst) for the government. Spend it well.

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