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
"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
On a normal Tuesday, Quitline would probably receive only a
third of the calls, messages and sign-ups received today, he
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
"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.
* 17 per cent of NZ adults are currently smokers
* Down from 21 per cent in 2006 and 33 per cent in 1983.
* 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