Price hikes help smok­ers quit

Nelson Mail - - National News - Alex Loo [email protected]

While the lat­est cig­a­rette price in­crease has left smok­ers un­happy, health ex­perts say it does en­cour­age them to quit.

Te Ohu Auahui Mu­tunga Stop Smok­ing Ser­vice op­er­ates in Horowhenua and Manawatu¯ , and many of the peo­ple it sup­ports have given up smok­ing be­cause of the cost.

Of the 2274 peo­ple re­ferred to the ser­vice in 2018, 320 peo­ple suc­cess­fully quit.

Ser­vice team leader Ash­leigh Kate Ward­law said most of the peo­ple us­ing the ser­vice came for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, with health rea­sons fol­low­ing closely be­hind.

Akaari Utikere is one of its suc­cess­ful clients and he has been smoke­free for a year.

Daugh­ter Rachel, who works for Te Ohu Auahi Mu­tunga, told him the or­gan­i­sa­tion was giv­ing out free vapes to peo­ple try­ing to quit.

Al­though he was tempted by the free trial, Utikere wanted to quit be­cause of the price of cig­a­rettes.

‘‘I prob­a­bly spent at least $140 a week.’’

Once Utikere made the switch to us­ing a vape with nico­tine, he never looked back.

A veg­etable har­vester by trade, quit­ting smok­ing meant phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity has be­come eas­ier and he en­joys hav­ing the ex­tra money.

He found it sur­pris­ingly easy to quit once he started us­ing a vape.

‘‘I didn’t think I’d ever give it up.

‘‘I’d been smok­ing for nearly 41 years.’’

Min­istry of Health of­fi­cials say vap­ing has the po­ten­tial to help achieve its goal of New Zealand be­com­ing smoke­free by 2025, as it pro­vides a less harm­ful al­ter­na­tive to cig­a­rettes. How­ever, it does not yet have enough ev­i­dence to rec­om­mend vapes as a means of smok­ing ces­sa­tion.

Vape and e-cig­a­rette sup­plier The Mush­room Cloud Palmer­ston North gen­eral man­ager Jade Glas­ton­bury said he had seen an in­crease in in­ter­est in vap­ing and e-cig­a­rettes. ‘‘Over the last 18 months it’s just blown up ... It’s snow­balled. There’s stores open­ing up ev­ery­where.’’

Te Ohu Auahui Mu­tunga quit coach Mar­i­lyn McKay, who is based at Palmer­ston North Hos­pi­tal, said there had been sig­nif­i­cant drops in smok­ing rates since taxes were in­creased. The ser­vice pro­vides sup­port from quit coaches and free nico­tine re­place­ment ther­apy, in­clud­ing gum and patches. ‘‘The tax in­crease – it’s not just about peo­ple stop­ping smok­ing, it’s also about young peo­ple not tak­ing it up be­cause it’s too ex­pen­sive for them,’’ she said.

McKay said in­cen­tives were an im­por­tant way to help peo­ple quit.

A min­istry re­port shows the smok­ing rate has de­clined since an­nual tax hikes were in­tro­duced in 2009.

The pro­por­tion of the adult pop­u­la­tion us­ing to­bacco prod­ucts daily has gone from from 18.3 per cent in 2006-07 to 13.8 per cent in 2016-17.

The re­port says quit at­tempts in­crease ev­ery Jan­uary fol­low­ing the yearly price hike.


The Mush­room Cloud gen­eral man­ager Jade Glas­ton­bury has seen a dra­matic in­crease in the pop­u­lar­ity of vapes.


Akaari Utikere took up vap­ing to help him ditch cig­a­rettes.

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