New Zealanders are being encouraged to try different types of free smoking cessation support as part of World Smokefree May.

May is World Smokefree Month and the theme is “We’re Backing You”, which builds on the past two years and demonstrates support for people who begin to quit smoking.

“We know that it can take a number of attempts for people to stop smoking, and so we encourage people to try different tools and support to work out what works for you,” says Dr Hayden McRobbie, Director Northern, National Public Health Service at Health NZ | Te Whatu Ora.

“There is a range of free support available, including phone, online, text and face-to-face support. You can also get very low-cost products that are subsidised like gum, lozenges and patches that help to manage nicotine withdrawal.

“You’re at least four times more likely to quit with support from a local quit coach, compared to going it alone. The support of family and friends is also really important, so we also encourage people to share their quit journey with those around you.”

New Zealanders who are interested in quitting smoking are encouraged to call Quitline or check out a local community service.

People can free call Quitline on 0800 778 778 or text 4006 for free advice and non-judgmental support to stop smoking. Many Quitline advisors have smoked previously themselves and have experience with quitting.

Support that Quitline offers includes:

  • Phone, text, online and face-to-face support that is available 24/7. This includes help developing a stop smoking plan, and someone to talk to at the times you would normally smoke.
  • Subsidised nicotine replacement products like gum, lozenges and patches – a month’s supply will only cost $5 if accessed through Quitline or your local Pharmacy, and it’s free if you are accessing a community stop smoking service.

Individual and group-based support is also available through local community programmes run by marae, churches, NGOs and other community providers.

There is also a range of activities being held up and down the country to support World Smokefree Month, which leads up to World Smokefree Day on May 31. This includes a range of pop-up events and community outreach activities.

“Community-based support services are free and widely available across all communities in New Zealand,” says Selah Hart, Head of Hauora Māori Public and Population Health, Health New Zealand|Te Whatu Ora.

“We want to make sure these services support whānau who currently smoke where they are on their quit journey, and work to address the local needs of communities. This will ensure we move closer to our national goal collectively, one step at a time.

“Over the last 12 years the number of New Zealanders who smoke daily has fallen consistently, and we want to give even more people support with help quitting.”

The New Zealand Health Survey results released late last year showed that 6.8 per cent of New Zealanders are smoking daily, down from 8.6 per cent the previous year, and 16.4 per cent in 2011/12 when the survey began.

“We want to ensure that every individual, whānau, and community has the tools, support services and personal encouragement to achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal.

“Let’s back one another, our communities, and our loved ones to become Smokefree,” says Selah Hart.