More smokers trying to kick habit

By Michele McPherson

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Western Bay medical centres are preparing for a rush of patients fulfilling New Year's resolutions to kick the smoking habit and avoid the latest price hike.

Since New Year's Day 102 residents from the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region - which includes Tauranga, Whakatane and Rotorua - have taken the step to quit smoking by calling Quitline or registering on its website.

Nationally 2132 people have called the free helpline since January 1, when the last of three tiered price increases on tobacco tax came into effect.

Quitline's Bruce Bassett said adult smoking rates this year could fall to the lowest levels since records began.

He said 21 per cent of adult New Zealanders smoked and about 9000 were expected to use Quitline services this month.

More than a fifth of those who used quitting services stayed smokefree, he said.

Quitline's Sarah Woods said the organisation was pleased with the number of people who had registered with them over the past few days.

"More people are contacting us than in the first few days of 2011 and January 2011 was a record month for us.

"Clearly people were ready for the third of the scheduled tobacco tax increases and the fact that tobacco has risen more than some people anticipated may have provided further motivation for smokers to quit," she said.

The latest tax hike had seen tobacco prices increase more than Quitline had anticipated, she said.

"The most popular packet of 20 cigarettes (Holiday) has increased from $12.60 to $14.40 and 30g (Horizon) of loose tobacco from $27 to $31.50."

Mount Medical Centre practice manager Karilyn Lowe said she had noticed an increase in the number of patients wanting to quit smoking in the New Year.

Yesterday morning alone they had seen two or three people seeking help to quit smoking.

"We don't usually see that many in a day," she said.

Ms Lowe said she was expecting more of the practice's regular patients to book appointments next week once the short week was over and some of the holidaymakers had left town.

Ms Lowe said television advertising for prescription medication, such as Champax, to help people quit smoking, was also prompting people to take action.

"I think that more people are probably seeking more help with the doctors than before."

A spokesman from the Gate Pa Medical Centre said it was too soon to tell how many smokers had resolved to make 2012 the year to quit.

However, they had noticed a surge in people wanting to quit before Christmas and requesting medication and nicotine patches to help them do so.

"I think people are just becoming a lot more health conscious. Everybody's got their own reasons but the price hike is helping people who are finding it tough out there," the spokesman said.

"People have been hurting for all of last year. There's just not the money for cigarettes so we have had a lot more inquiries this last year. We haven't really noticed any since the price hike but they were high enough anyway."

Tips to quit smoking



  • Avoid situations that make you want to smoke


  • Change your routines and habits


  • Make your home smoke-free and get rid of ashtrays


  • Clean your car and keep it smoke free


  • Cut down on alcohol


  • Phone a friend for support


  • Plan what to do when you go where there might be smokers


  • Practise saying "I don't smoke", "I am a non-smoker" or "I'm not smoking any more"


  • Put up a list of reasons you quit somewhere you can see it


  • Spend time with non-smokers or ex-smokers


  • Go for a walk when you are stressed or upset


  • Reward yourself with a treat from some of the money you've saved


  • Remember the 4 Ds if you get cravings - delay, drink water, deep breathe, do something else - Quitline


  • Keep yourself busy

     



- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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