NZ closes on non-smoking target

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Goal in sight . . . The Southern District Health Board Smokefree team (from left) Joanne Lee, Komal Suratwala, Debby Newton and Megan Barrett are marking Smokefree month. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Positive action around being smokefree is snowballing to create a country where not smoking is the normal way of life, advocates say.

The Southern District Health Board’s Smokefree team is spreading the anti-smoking message ahead of World Smokefree Day on May 31.

Smokefree co-ordinator Debby Newton said 84% of New Zealanders did not smoke, meaning the country was well on the way to reaching the goal of reducing the smoking rate to less than 5% by 2025.

The government campaign is known as “the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 action plan”.

“New Zealanders are joining the trend and either not smoking or giving up smoking,” Ms Newton said.

About 550,000 people in New Zealand still smoked daily, so there was plenty of work to do, she said.

“Research has shown us that most people who smoke regret starting, and we are very keen to help them to quit in a supportive way.

“It is best to quit smoking with the support of a coach, which is where the Southern Stop Smoking Service comes in, as well as additional support from family or friends.”

The free Southern Stop Smoking Servicereceived 2082 referrals in 2017. Of those, 660 had set a quit date and 453 were validated as being smokefree.

Delivered from Invercargill and with nine stop-smoking coaches across Otago and Southland, the service was provided via several Dunedin clinics and in workplaces.

“It is a very effective programme, and one which is accessible to everyone,” Ms Newton said.

Health promotion adviser Joanne Lee said the Smokefree team had been thrilled with the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging in March.

The SDHB Smokefree team acknowledged the support of Dunedin City Council, the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic.

The DCC implemented its Smokefree Dunedin policy in April, 2014, making the city’s parks and playgrounds smoke free, along with public events.