Tauranga smokers quitting the habit

By Sonya Bateson

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GIVING UP: The number of smokers in Tauranga has been decreasing.PHOTO/FILE
GIVING UP: The number of smokers in Tauranga has been decreasing.PHOTO/FILE

Sixty-three people in Tauranga have requested help quitting their smoking habit since New Year's Day.

Quitline, the charitable trust which offers support to people quitting smoking, had 50 calls and 13 online registrations from people in Tauranga up until January 11.

A spokeswoman said registrations had been increasing each day in January so far, whereas in the past there had been a big spike on January 1, then a dropoff thereafter.

"We think this shows that people are increasingly using a range of channels to get support," she said.

The number of smokers in the city dropped dramatically in seven years, with 15,219 Tauranga residents smoking regularly at the time of the 2006 census compared to 11,931 in 2013.

Cigarette prices were raised by 10 per cent on January 1, an increase which was hard on many low income groups, but also impacted people with mental health problems.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board mental health and addiction services business leader Eileen Hughes said patients with mental health needs generally had a higher incidence of smoking than others.

"As a result they also experience higher incidences of smoking related illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory illnesses and cancer.

"Cost increases are challenging for all individuals who use tobacco but equally it can provide an opportunity for individuals to consider giving up."

The health board had information and smoking cessation treatment available to all patients accessing its services, she said.

"Becoming smokefree is an achievable goal for patients with mental health needs and our focus is on encouraging smoking cessation and providing support, as we would for any other patients who smoke.

"Most people who smoke want to be smokefree and the benefits of stopping smoking far outweigh any perceived benefits of continuing to smoke. As well as the many physical health benefits associated with stopping smoking, there is strong evidence that smoking cessation leads to reduced stress and anxiety."

LINC Support Services general manager Stephanie Parker said a lot of funding went into smoking cessation programmes which mental health patients could access.

Mrs Parker said smoking had always been a difficult habit for people with mental health needs, as with all people on limited budgets.

Those who wanted to give up could get help through smoking cessation programmes while others would chose to continue smoking as before despite price increases.

Some mental health patients would pick up cigarette butts, but this was something that had always happened, Mrs Parker said.

"We haven't seen any additional problems being caused by price increases."

Rawiri Morunga from Hanmer Clinic also had not noticed any additional problems caused by tobacco price increases.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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