Quitline busy but young light up

By Kim Fulton

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RISKS: A health official is worried that younger people are continuing to take up the smoking habit. PHOTO/FILE
RISKS: A health official is worried that younger people are continuing to take up the smoking habit. PHOTO/FILE

Hawke's Bay people are turning to Quitline for support to stop smoking but one health official is worried young people are continuing to take up the habit.

Quitline data shows there were 477 calls to Quitline from Hawke's Bay between January 1 and early March.

Hawke's Bay people also contacted Quitline through its website 56 times during the same period.

Health Hawke's Bay Primary Health Organisation performance manager Victoria Speers said general practitioners were providing nicotine replacement therapy, Champix and referrals to Quitline. These methods were successfully helping people to quit.

She said raising the price of cigarettes had put smokes out of financial reach for some, and this also had an impact on people quitting.

Some people listed on practice records as smokers were signalling they had given up the habit for themselves.

However, Ms Speers said it was concerning that younger people were still taking up smoking while older people were more likely to seek help to quit.

Ms Speers said Health Hawke's Bay would encourage community providers and general practices to set up smoke-free displays and give out free lipbalms, pens and tote bags ahead of World Smokefree Day this May.

It would also ask receptionists to hand out slips to each patients where they could signal whether they smoked and whether they wanted help to quit.

Those who wanted to quit would go into the draw for a prize.

Bay basketball team the Indigo Hawks would also help on the smoke-free effort with guest appearances in the community, Ms Speers said.

Quitline chief executive Andrew Slater said people were increasingly using digital tools such as blogs, Facebook and texts to quit smoking.

Friends, family and partners of smokers were also increasingly asking online about how to help their whanau quit.

"That's an emerging trend for us. What we want to do is help those people become positive health coaches, to support their friends and family," Mr Slater said.

He thought the increased interest from friends and family of smokers was a result of their ability to engage with the Quitline service online.

Quitline was available 24 hours, seven days a week and Mr Slater said people were five times more likely to succeed in their attempts to quit if they had been through programmes such as Quitline.

It could work with them to find the best tools to support their efforts.

Mr Slater said people received a huge boost to their self-esteem when they stopped smoking.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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