"Stop the smoking thing, and sing"

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Tūranga Healths’ new 'Auahi Kore-oke' programme encourages locals to quit smoking by using the medium of singing and competition.

The East Coast has the highest rate of smoking in NZ, with $5,000 per smoker being spent each year on tobacco products, making a grand total of $77.5 million per year.

Apanui stated, “I was smoking since I was about 15, and I wanted to give up now because I eventually knew that it's not going to help me and it's just bad for me overall”.

30% of adults in the East Coast region self-report as daily smokers, twice the national average. Those figures climb to 41.7% for Māori.

Walter Walsh, Auahi Kore-Oke organiser and Smoking cessation coach said at Turanga Health said that, “We have a smoke-ilizer machine, and what it does is measure your carbon monoxide levels in your lungs and the safest zone where you should be in between 1 and 6, so they sign up over six weeks, and by the end of the six weeks they should be smoke free, they either blow a 1, 2 or 3, but between 1 and 6 is the smoke free zone”.

17-year-old Tipene Apanui took home the $1000 prize for the smoking cessation program by cutting back his intake, “It's a good way to get people to quit but, it's a bit hard for people who have been smoking for many years”, said Tipene Apanui.

Dianna Matete took out the karaoke side of the initiative and the $1000 prize, but as long-time smoker she admits it’s not easy to quit, “I've tried giving up smoking I've done it before, but there's a bit of issues behind that side I suppose because I've done it for so long, just all the toxins I suppose came out and yeah”.

Lung cancer death rates in Tairāwhiti are much higher than in other regions (36.5 deaths per 100,000 people).

Finding success with the new initiative, Walter Walsh said, “Over the last six weeks we had 38 people sign up for singing, we had 18 people sign up for smoking, and about six of them became smoke-free".

Turanga Health are now looking at taking the idea to other campuses.

If you would like support to quit smoking please visit www.smokefree.org.nz