Quit smoking— hundreds of Northlanders have and others are urged to follow suit as part of their New Year's resolution.
That's the message from the Northland District Health Board which says a further 10 per cent hike in taxes on cigarette and tobacco products from today should be another incentive to quit the habit.
Northland's new Stop Smoking Service – Toki Rau— said last year 253 people had successfully stopped smoking of which 75 per cent were Maori.
The service was able to offer those wanting to quit free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.
The price of a standard pack of 20 cigarettes currently cost about $25 while the one that smokers roll is about $85.
There are an estimated 20,000 smokers in Northland and 550,000 throughout New Zealand, according to the NDHB.
Figures from Quitline show the support service was contacted 2044 times by Northlanders in 2016— around one in 10 smokers— and 960 between January and September last year.
However, there's no way of knowing how many of those that contacted Quitline for help actually quit smoking.
Whangarei father-of-four Nick Rowson is among those who have quit smoking and not only is he feeling much healthier, he managed to save enough money to buy a spa pool and other household accessories.
"There were times when we were on the bones of our butt and didn't have enough for food but cigarettes were very much part of the shopping list," he said.
Mr Rowson enrolled in a trial conducted by Auckland University last September to entice smokers to quit and after smoking both cigarettes and vape for two weeks, he decided to use the latter which contains a small amount of nicotine.
He was spending $85 a week smoking between 100 and 120 rolls and had already saved $1200.
"I started smoking 24 years ago, when I was 15, because my cousins were smoking and it seemed a cool thing to do. I thought I could give up anytime but suddenly realised I couldn't," he said.
Mr Rowson intends to stop using the vape at some stage.
Another Northlander who quit smoking is 24-year-old beautician Cassandra Ball after she decided to have a baby and after reading Allen Carr's book, Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
She's 19 weeks pregnant and has vowed to never smoke.
"Quitting smoking is the best decision I've ever made. My breathing is so much easier now, I never cough in the morning , and I really didn't want to smoke while I am pregnant," she said.
In May last year, the government announced the tax on tobacco would rise by 10 per cent each year for the next four years.
NDHB smokefree advisor Bridget Rowse is urging smokers to make quitting smoking their New Year's resolution.
"It's a great opportunity to begin that journey to a smokefree life," she said.
Give quitting a go by talking to your general practitioner, midwife, Māori health provider or call 0508 TOKI RAU (0508 8654 728).