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High Price of Cigarettes Urges Smokers to Quit

Monday, January 16th, 2012

tax free wind cigarettesThe reasons people give are family and health but what has driven them to quit now has been the cost. Sarah Woods, QuitlineOther health reasons, but hit to wallet proves most effective. As tax free Wind cigarette prices skyrocket, Rotorua smokers are giving up the habit to cut costs and start the year smokefree.

National stop-smoking support service Quitline said 159 people from the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board regions registered to quit in the first week of 2012.

Nationwide 2422 people contacted the service in the same period, with registrations running 5 per cent higher than the same time last year. Of those who contacted Quitline, 509 were Maori and 133 Pacific Islanders – two groups with a high number of smokers.

The high cost of cigarettes is believed to be one of the main reasons people are giving up.

The latest price rise saw tobacco go up $2 on average for a 20 pack of cigarettes. Ms Woods said packs of 20 Holiday-brand cigarettes had gone from $12.60 to $14.40 while a 30g pack of Horizon loose tobacco jumped from $27 to $31.50. At a pack a day, smoking could now cost more than $5000 a year.

January is always a busy time for Quitline as people resolve to start a new year healthy and smokefree. The last of three tobacco tax rises, that came into effect on New Year’s Day, has given many an added motivation to kick the habit for good.

Quitline’s Sarah Woods said the cost of cigarettes have encouraged people to give up smoking. “The cost increase is a big factor, it’s the tipping point. The reasons people give are family and health but what has driven them to quit now has been the cost,” Ms Woods said.

Rotorua woman Jenni McGowan, 36, knows first hand the benefits – financial and healthwise – of giving up. After 20 years of smoking she successfully quit on her first attempt last June, with the help of Quitline.

She said her decision to quit was not down to increasing prices, even though her 25-30 cigarette a day habit was getting more and more expensive.

“I just gave up other stuff when prices went up. I went without so I could smoke,” she said.

“The more prices would go up I would just buy a cheaper brand.”

However, she soon found she was saving at least $50 a week.

Ms McGowan said she had heard of more people deciding to quit after this month’s price hike, including her cousin who was also registered with Quitline.

Despite this she doesn’t necessarily thing tax hikes are a good idea.

“They will lead to far too much poverty. People are going to buy them anyway, they are addicted,” she said.

The single mother quit for the sake of her 12-year-old son, Josh, after she was rushed to hospital with severe asthma last winter.

“I saw his heart break when he left me in hospital that night. The next day when I got home Josh said ‘Mum, I prayed for you last night’. I bawled and promised him that by the time he turned 13 I would give up,” she said.

She smoked her final cigarette days later, and when Josh turns 13 next week his mum will have been smokefree, and asthma-free, for more than six months.

Ms McGowan said she could not have done it without the help from Quitline. She used the subsidised nicotine patches, lozenges and gum and found their regular text messages particularly helpful.

“They are always there if you need them and are very supportive.”

According to Quitline, 21 per cent of people they helped were still smokefree after six months, up to five times higher than the success rate for those who tried to give up without professional support.