Craig Sanders had his last cigarette at the Waikato versus Taranaki pre-season game in Te Awamutu on July 6 last year.
Now, well over a year later, he has successfully kicked the smoking habit for good.
Mr Sanders helped drive the 0800 Kick The Habit (0800 542 584) campaign and was the champion for Te Awamutu Sports and Recreation club.
Being a champion meant Mr Sanders was a role model for other club members wanting to kick the habit. His high community profile in Te Awamutu made him an ideal smokefree champion.
Mr Sanders decided to become smokefree when his six-year-old son said, "I'm going to smoke like dad when I grow up".
He says the worst aspect of giving up was getting very bad tempered.
Mr Sanders made use of nicorete and nicotine patches, which he says helped a lot.
He also used Quitline for support and says they provided him with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT - patches, gum, lozenges) and booklets that helped, as well as having a weekly visit from a support person.
Mr Sanders says some of the immediately noticeable positives of being a non-smoker are 'not stinking' and not feeling out of place in public.
He says it isn't until you quit that you realise how much smoking stinks.
He says the best bit of advice he got was from his mate, Neal Johnston, who said "'Every day it gets easier.'
"He was right and that's the advice I give others."
Mr Sanders is proof that kicking the habit is possible. It's not an easy road by any means, but there are people and products available to help.
0800 Kick The Habit (0800 542 584) is one avenue that is designed to help Waikato residence to kick the habit. It's very similar to Quitline however it's a local toll-free number that connects the Waikato community to local quit smoking providers. These providers can offer support and Nicotine products.
As Mr Sanders mentioned, getting support through face to face contact and using the NRT products is very helpful.
You don't have to travel this journey alone, there is help available.
If you are considering giving up smoking, why not talk to one of the local providers who can help support you with your smokefree journey.
Act now, call 0800 Kick The Habit and get connected to one of the friendly providers right here in the Waikato.