Smokers are offered cash to quit
Smokers in Taumarunui will be paid to quit.
Up to $300 in gift vouchers are up for grabs for pregnant women in Taumarunui who quit and stay smoke-free for four weeks past their target quit date. Nonpregnant smokers get $50.
Taumarunui has one of the highest rates of smoking pregnant women in the country and will also get a ‘‘quit coach’’ in October to help locals give up smoking for good.
One in two pregnant women in Taumarunui smokes during pregnancy, according to studies by the Waikato DHB.
The new coach is Taumarunui local Sona Selwyn, who is a former smoker herself.
She said incentives are costeffective in the long term.
‘‘Can you imagine what they’re paying right now for smokerelated diseases? It would go into the multimillions - maybe into the billions.
‘‘It’s better to put the money at the front end rather than the back end.’’
The quit coach and cash are
‘‘It's a millstone around their neck. We need to give them back control of their lives.’’ Sona Selwyn
part of Pinnacle Midlands Health Network (MHN) smoking cessation programme Once and for All, available for smokers living in Waikato, Taira¯ whiti and now Taumarunui.
The six-week programme,which kicked off in 2016, involves clients picking a target quit date and being coached through withdrawal.
Carbon monoxide monitors allow coaches to measure the level of nicotine on clients’ breath to ensure they abstain.
Taumarunui locals know their smoking is a problem, Selwyn said, but stopping is hard and a reward can sweeten the withdrawal.
‘‘A lot of the people who do smoke can’t afford to. I see it all the time downtown. I’m talking about the people walking in the gutters, picking up butts,’’ Selwyn said.
‘‘It’s so prevalent here in town. We really need to help these people because they are shackled to it.
‘‘It’s a millstone around their neck. We need to give them back control of their lives.’’
A 2017 Pinnacle MHN quarterly report found 44 per cent of clients remained smoke-free four weeks after their target quit date.