New initiative aims to make Te Taitokerau smoke-free by 2025

By Dean Nathan

Northland's GPs are using mobile technology as a way of targeting the region's increasing number of smokers. Te Taitokerau has the highest rate of Māori smokers.

The Te Taitokerau Primary Health Organisation is supporting a new initiative to connect with smokers in the hope of becoming a non-smoking status region by 2025. 

PHO's Chief Executive Rose Lightfoot says, "We've got probably the highest smoking rates of Maori in the country which is not a statistic that we're proud of at all. Over 34 percent of our Maori enrolled within our Taitokerau PHOs are regular smokers."

Vensa Health's innovative practice-patient solution will enable the Te Taitokerau PHO to engage with the 60,000 clients on its registry.

It's been five months since Eric Hapi of Te Arawa descent quit smoking.

"My breathing is a lot better for myself my breathing and I get more active now," Hapi says.

Vensa Health's txt2remind service has been up and running since April. Spokesperson Kelleigh Embers says they're already seeing results in Northland. 

"I'm actually from up north so to be able to help them and I have quite a lot of family who smoke so it's pretty exciting to be able to help 208 people I think we reached to help quit smoking in a very short span of time."

"We've got the aim of making Taitokerau a smoke-free region by 2025 and this is actually going to be a really big step towards achieving that goal which is a formidable goal but we're going to get there," Lightfoot adds.