Why should we be smokefree?
Traditionally Māori did not smoke. However, when tobacco was introduced to New Zealand in the 18th century that changed quickly. Smoking has been particularly damaging for Māori, who have higher smoking rates and higher rates of death and tobacco-related illness than non-Māori.
The smoking rate for Māori adults is 38%
Māori men – 34%, Māori women – 42%
Māori are 2.5 times more likely to be smokers than non-Māori.
Māori smokers are the youngest to start smoking, at just over 14-years-old on average.
It's important that Māori become free from smoking to ensure the next generation of tamariki and mokopuna will be smokefree - this includes hapū actively choosing not to smoke, and helping those who already are smoking to quit.
There are many reasons why whānau and hapū should be smokefree...
Healthy Life - Whānau who are smokefree will lead healthier lives and be able to enjoy life to its fullest. They’ll also be around a lot longer to share fun and knowledge with tamariki and mokopuna.
Protect Tamariki - Most parents and caregivers don’t want their tamariki to smoke, even if they smoke themselves. Tamariki are more vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke and so need to be protected from it.
Positive Role Models - Tamariki and mokopuna are heavily influenced by their role models. If there are smokefree parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, older cousins or siblings who are seen by tamariki as role models in the whānau, there’s a greater chance these tamariki and mokopuna will also be smokefree.
Health Problems - Smoking leads to many health problems, harms almost every part of our body, and increases our chances of developing diseases like stroke and heart disease, many different cancers, diabetes, bronchitis and emphysema, cataracts and blindness.
Protection From Second-Hand Smoke - Breathing in the fumes from other people who smoke can be just as dangerous as if you were smoking yourself. This is called 'second-hand smoke' and it affects everyone close to the smoker. Children living in a house with smokers are more likely to get sick. Second hand smoke can cause unborn babies to be smaller and more at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome once they are born.
Protection from Third Hand Smoke - Third hand smoke occurs from cigarette ash and smoke that settles on carpet and furniture. It can be re-released in to the air and inhaled through the nose or breathed in through the mouth. This is a problem especially if you have pēpe just starting to crawl or explore.
Māori were traditionally auahi kore - Pre-European Māori culture was auahi kore as smoking was inconsistent with traditional tikanga Māori. Captain Cook first introduced tobacco and as time went by tobacco became valued by Māori as a koha or trade article. Tobacco was distributed as a gift at Waitangi by William Hobson prior to the signing of the Treaty and it wasn’t long before negative health effects emerged. Let's reclaim our culture and values and be auahi kore!
Cost - Smoking is expensive! Smoking a pack a day ($29.70 per pack) costs around $207.90 per week (that's likely to be close to your grocery bill for a week), or $10,810.80 per year (that's a new car). By 2020, smoking a pack a day will cost $210 per week due to an increase in the tax which is designed to help stop children start smoking.
There are three main reasons why becoming auahi kore can be difficult for whānau. These are; addiction to nicotine, habit and emotions.
1. Addiction to nicotine
The nervous system gets used to having nicotine regularly and when it doesn't receive any, the person quitting will experience very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, even just after two to four hours without a cigarette. The level of withdrawal varies between people. If this is proving difficult, try Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) which you can get by contacting a smoking cessation provider.
A person who smokes daily will have formed habits around smoking. For example, having a cigarette with a morning coffee, a cigarette on the drive to mahi, or a cigarette with a drink when socialising. These situations become triggers and automatically make you think about smoking, even though you may not be physically craving it. Habits are hard to break, and there is no habit replacement therapy! This is where you need to make a conscious effort to change your routine. Kia kaha!
Some people try to stop doing the things that they do with smoking for the first month or so, until they feel more confident in being auahi kore. Some simply switch from coffee to tea, stop drinking alcohol, or try public transport while they are making the transition to auahi kore.
Emotions are big smoking triggers too – you may smoke in response to feeling a certain way. For example, you might smoke for comfort when sad; for a break when tired or for something to do when bored. Often cigarettes are used to cover up an uncomfortable feeling too, such as when you're angry or when you're nervous.
Once you know the habits and emotions that trigger you to smoke, you can start coming up with a plan to deal with those. For some simple strategies to combat your smoking triggers download this infosheet - 'Know your smoking triggers'.
If you are thinking about quitting, keep in mind these points, especially when it gets hard! Likewise, if you have a whānanu member who is trying to quit, remember these four things as you support them along their journey to smokefree.
For more information on nicotine replacement products or other products available to help with becoming smokefree, talk to a kaiwhakatere (cessation support person) Hapainga and Tipu Ora are special services for Māori which provide face to face support to quit), or visit Quitline.