Price hikes help smokers quit
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.