Nelson Hospital Quit Coach Sarah McKenzie.

Smokers need to keep quitting

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

And if that doesn’t work, Nelson Hospital Quit Coach Sarah McKenzie says smokers need to try at least another six or seven times because that’s about how many attempts it takes some people to quit.

It’s World Smokefree Day this Tuesday and Sarah says the staff at Nelson Hospital are doing their bit to try and encourage the 9288 smokers in Nelson and Tasman to kick the habit.

Although smoking rates in the region have declined from 20.7 per cent in 2006 to 15.1 per cent in 2013, Sarah says there’s is still a long way to go before reaching the target of a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025.

Sarah says research indicates that at least eight out of every 10 people who smoke regret starting, while one in two smokers had made a quit attempt in the last year. However, she says it’s important for smokers to realise that anyone who is motivated enough to try and quit is on the right track and that “it’s not a failure and not to give up”.

“It’s not uncommon for people to try eight or 10 times to give up,” she says. “It’s very rare for me to meet someone who says ‘this is the first time I’ve tried to quit’.”

Sarah says the key to success is ensuring that smokers get the support so that “they can give it their best shot”. If people try to quit without support, she says they are setting themselves up to not succeed.

Sarah says the best way to get support is through a GP or by phoning Quitline on 0800778778, which now provides a 24-7 service. The staff at Nelson Hospital also play a key role in delivering the smoke-free message, offering advice and support to more than 95 per cent of known smokers who are treated in the hospital.

Sarah says the cost of these support therapies is negligible and, in some cases, are subsidised.

Quitline provides nicotine replacements at a greatly reduced cost of $5 for an eight week supply while certain groups, including pregnant and breast-feeding mums and students, are eligible for four free GP consultations a year.

And Sarah says the bottom line is that the cost of quitting is usually considerably less than the cost of continuing smoking.

“The people I see are spending around $50 to $100 a week on tobacco which puts a real squeeze on their finances. Their health also suffers so it doesn’t matter how you look at it, it’s not worth it.”