Caregivers stub out the smokes
Ann Ponga first started smoking as a teenager.
But in recent years her habit has made her cough uncontrollably to the point where she can no longer travel by plane as it made breathing difficult.
Ponga’s declining health and a desire to travel overseas were the reasons the caregiver signed up to kick the habit with several colleagues.
‘‘I never thought I would ever give up smoking,’’ she said.’’I thought, I’ve got to do this if I want to achieve goals in my life.’’
Fellow caregiver Joanna Holmes said when she first heard some staff at the Oakwoods Retirement Village were going to sign up to a Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) quit smoking programme, she made a ‘‘half-hearted’’ decision to join in.
In the end, Holmes credits the support of the group with getting her through.
The group met with a quit coach once a week, the carbon monoxide level of their breath was monitored and they had a chance to share tips with each other.
‘‘It was just fantastic being part of a group because we could show up every week and talk about how we were going and the difficulties we were having.
‘‘It was just a matter of getting through week by week,’’ Holmes said.
She had been a smoker for 26 years and had tried to give up once before.
Holmes now had more energy and could go for a walk to the service station without getting puffed.
‘‘It’s such a good feeling,’’ she said. ‘‘My daughter hated me smoking and she’s been really supportive.’’
Food tasted better and she also had more money for things like shopping.
Ponga and Holmes are among seven of the Oakwoods Retirement Village staff who have quit smoking.
It has now been three months since either woman had a cigarette and both their lives and wallets are happier for it.
The pair estimate their habit cost them around $90 a week. Holmes said cigarettes were often the first thing she purchased after getting paid.
‘‘I actually don’t know how I afforded to smoke now,’’ she said.
NMH health promoter Gayle Hay said thegroup participated in a seven-week programme with the support of a quit coach and had access to nicotine patches, vapes, mouth sprays and medication.
‘‘We like to say we double people’s chances of becoming smokefree rather than if they quit alone.’’
Oakwoods Retirement Village manager Steve Davis said he was happy to support staff in their bid to quit.
‘‘As a reformed smoker myself, I understood the pain they were going through.’’
He further incentivised them by offering $100 to those who succeeded in remaining smokefree after the programme ended.
‘‘We really tried to make it as successful as we could.’’
Both Ponga and Holmes say they have given up the cigarettes for good.
‘‘I could never go back to smoking, it’s the best thing ever to have given up,’’ Ponga said. She already has a holiday booked in Phuket, Thailand for next year.
The pair think if once heavysmokers like themselves can kick the habit, anyone can.
‘‘You have to do it for you,’’ Ponga said.
Oakwoods Retirement Village staff Ann Ponga, left, and Joanna Holmes, right, are part of a programme run by Gayle Hay from Nelson Marlborough Health to help people quit.