Supporting smokers to quit

It takes a team effort to support a person to quit smoking.

That is the message from Smokefree Otago ahead of World Smokefree Day on May 31, as the national campaign to make Aotearoa smoke-free by 2025 continues.

Smokefree Otago chairwoman and Public Health South senior health promotion adviser Debby Newton said the theme for World Smokefree Day, "We’re Backing You", was chosen by "brilliant and insightful rangatahi" as a reflection of their relationship with the Smokefree team.

The theme focused on the teamwork among whanau and friends needed to help people stop smoking and stay smoke-free.

It was matched with a three word whakataukī (proverb) "Taituara, taiwhare, taieke" (with backing, even the tallest of ocean waves can be conquered).

The Smokefree May campaign will be run virtually in the Southern district this year, due to Covid.

The campaign will include the voices of rangatahi and online events and giveaways through social media.

Ms Newton said there were many practical ways that friends and whānau could support a person to stop smoking — from making their house and car smoke-free to making sure not to smoke in front of them.

"You could also think about joining them on their Smokefree journey," she said.

"It can take up to 20 serious attempts for a person to quit smoking, and consequently it is also important to be supportive if they relapse."

Ms Newton said the most recent tobacco-use figures showed that about 90% of New Zealanders did not smoke.

The latest census data available, from 2018, showed that smoking rates in Dunedin city were 11.8%, with rates among Maori at 20.3%. The actual rates were likely to be lower four years on.

"A collective effort is required to achieve Smokefree 2025 for all communities in Aotearoa and of course the support of whānau is key," Ms Newton said.

Smokefree South and Smokefree Murihuku include representatives from the Cancer Society, WellSouth, Southern District Health Board, Asthma Society, Southern Stop Smoking Service, Aspire 2025, Otago University and Dunedin City Council.



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