Community Scoop

New smokefree co-ordinator determined to lower smoking rates

Press Release – Westcoast DHB

The West Coast’s new Smokefree Services Co-ordinator, along with local health organisations, is determined to improve the Coast’s smoking rates, among the highest in the country. 19 January 2012

New smokefree co-ordinator determined to get smoking rates down

The West Coast’s new Smokefree Services Co-ordinator, along with local health organisations, is determined to improve the Coast’s smoking rates, among the highest in the country.

John Caygill is two months into the West Coast PHO role, coming from 25 years working in mental health and addiction services in Otago and more recently on the Coast. He says the overall rate of smoking across all ages groups on the Coast is significantly higher than other parts of the country.

In his role as Smokefree Co-ordinator, John will be working with other health providers to help meet the Government’s health target that by July 2012, 90% of patients enrolled in a general practice who smoke will have been provided with advice and help to quit. The target for patients in hospital is even higher – 95% of those who smoke.

Part of John’s role is providing training and resources to support the Government’s “ABC” process to reach these targets. The ABC process is that GPs and other health professionals will Ask (A) if the patient is a smoker, give Brief (B) advice on the health risks associated with smoking, and offer to provide or refer-on for Cessation (C) support.”

“It often takes several attempts to quit smoking for good, so it’s important that people have easy access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges through the GP practices and local pharmacies. With NRT and a few supportive counselling sessions chances of success are much higher than just going ‘cold turkey’.”

John, who is supported in the role by Claire Robertson, HEHA and Smokefree Services Manager, will also be working with the West Coast Tobacco Free Coalition —a group of local health organisations and community agencies—to promote smokefree environments and policies and to support workplace initiatives.

John says, “The coalition recently gained some ground in the area of smokefree environments, with the Grey District Council agreeing to let Community and Public Health put up Smokefree Area signs in the local parks and playgrounds, in line with similar agreements from Buller and Westland councils.

“We are all working towards the same objective . . . getting those smoking rates down.”

Greymouth’s Bharat Ganda was a smoker for 35 years and in 2006 kicked the habit.

“I started by reducing the amount of cigarettes I smoked each day. The first few days were hell but I had patches and they helped. I then used gum. Once you start this habit it becomes very hard to give up and believe me I had tried many times to quit.”

Bharat soon noticed he wasn’t spending as much money each week and was feeling better.

A couple of years ago he got pneumonia and was admitted to hospital for seven days in the critical care ward. He now has a long term lung condition that requires him to be hooked up to an oxygen concentrator for 16 hours a day.

“If I go away anywhere, including overseas, I need to make arrangements to ensure I receive the extra oxygen I need per day. I now have Type 2 diabetes and have only one kidney that works. My breathing is a problem and will always be a problem. I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now if I had not picked up that first cigarette.

“It’s been five years since I’ve stopped smoking and I should have done it many years ago.”

Bharat’s plea is “please do not start smoking”.

“Nothing good can come from it and I am proud to say many of my friends have also stopped smoking after I made the decision to quit.”


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