A trial which offers smokers the chance to try nicotine replacement therapy whether they want to quit or not has started in Wellington.

The University of Otago Wellington trial will offer smokers the chance to sample a range of nicotine replacement therapies under the guidance of an expert coach at shopping malls and other public spaces.

Lead researcher Brent Caldwell said the trial would enable smokers to experience first-hand the benefits of nicotine replacement therapy and become more confident in their ability to quit smoking.

Smokers would be given a free sample pack of the therapies they liked, which they could use over the next week regardless of whether they wanted to quit.


"Our idea is that providing readily accessible assistance in a wide variety of community settings will reduce any delay between a smoker's thoughts of quitting and them doing something about it, Dr Caldwell said.

Smokers would be given regular follow-up support to keep using nicotine replacement therapy to try to quit smoking.

"Most smokers would like to quit, but they often put off trying because they feel overwhelmed with how hard it is. If smokers get the chance to use nicotine replacement therapy in an ideal way, and feel their urge evaporate, they become much more confidence in their ability to quit."

The trial was a new approach because it gave smokers a chance to experience the helpful effects of nicotine replacement therapy, without having to sign up to setting a quit date, which they might not be ready to do, Dr Caldwell said.

"It's a totally non-judgmental, liberating, and empowering way to engage with smokers."

The trial was being funded by the Ministry of Health Innovation Fund.

Trial locations
* Queensgate Shopping Mall, Lower Hutt this week;

* North City Mall in February


* Palmerston North and Manawatu in March.