Debbie Churton had her first puff of a cigarette at 14.
Peer pressured by friends, Debbie would sneak to the back of school and light up.
Now, after a 30-year habit and some positive peer pressure from colleagues, Debbie has been smoke-free for 13 weeks thanks to the Stop Smoking Service.
Debbie is one of 13 employees from Nelson’s Mitre10 Mega who took part in the programme run by the Nelson Marlborough DHB.
“I feel amazing, mentally, financially and just much healthier,” she says.
The free seven-week programme involves a quit coach coming to the workplace for one hour a week to help support those quitting, provide nicotine alternatives and provide information.
Alternatives include nicotine lozenges, gum and nicotine patches.
“The setting is nice and relaxed and it’s very positive, which is important,” says Debbie. “If someone slips up, we support them instead of having a go at them.”
Debbie says while she used a vapour to help get through the initial withdrawal period, she is finding herself less reliant on it as the weeks pass.
Mitre 10 Mega Nelson marketing coordinator Murray Leaning says they were more than happy to support the employees opting into the service.
“We are a family business and we want to look after our family, so they can look after theirs.”
Te hā Pūkenga Manaaki quit coach Sonia Hepi-Treanor says 13 people becoming non-smokers is a massive achievement.
“It has a massive roll-on effect for families and the community’s health, it’s quite magic.”
One of the alternative methods the service encourages is vaping which Sonia says is 95 per cent less harmful.
“It’s clean nicotine and clean nicotine is OK.”
Health promoter at NMDHB Gayle Hay says: “It’s not harmless but is less harmful.”
Mitre 10’s Jayden Hutnell has been smoke-free for four months thanks to the programme.
He says now that he doesn’t spend his days off sitting outside, he has more time to spend with his children.
Jayden strongly recommends the programme to other smokers.
“It’s so worth it, just do it, give it a go.”
Thanks to the money Debbie has saved from quitting she will be visiting her new granddaughter in Auckland this Christmas.
If you or your workplace are interested in quitting smoking contact the Nelson Marlborough DHB at [email protected] or call 0800 NO SMOKE