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Buses challenge smokers to quit now

SARAH ROBERTS
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014
Rangi McLean
QUIT BUS: Manurewa Marae chairman Rangi McLean blesses the mobile smokefree support vehicle.

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A mobile service offering smokefree support has been dubbed a vehicle for revolution by Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia.

Quit Buses are hitting the road to provide free one-on-one advice, information and nicotine replacement therapy to South Auckland communities.

Manurewa Marae, which has been smokefree for six years, hosted the launch.

Ms Turia was unable to be at the event because of travel delays but her speech was read at the opening.

"The Quit Bus is a visible vehicle of challenge - speaking out against tobacco smoking as the leading cause of preventable death and disease in New Zealand.

"I can never say it enough - that I find it utterly unacceptable that every year about 5000 people in Aotearoa die from smoking-related illnesses," she says.

The buses are funded through the Health Ministry's Pathway to Smokefree 2025. The goal is to have fewer than 5 per cent of New Zealand's population smoking in 11 years.

The three-year initiative is provided by Counties Manukau Health, Comprehensive Care and Transitioning Out Aotearoa.

Statistics New Zealand's 2013 Census results show 15 per cent of the adult population smokes.

The new service is to help anyone but in particular Maori and Pacific people and pregnant women and their families because they are most affected by smoking.

Counties Manukau Health Smokefree programme manager Vicki Evans says the team wants to talk to as many people as possible.

"Come and have a chat about how you can become smokefree or support a whanau member to quit. It could be the best decision you make this year," she says.

Manurewa Marae chairman Rangi McLean says the marae already supports smokefree environments, providing doctor referrals, exercise classes and traditional medicine.

The new service will help more people in the surrounding community to give up smoking, he says.

Buses will provide support as far north as Te Hana and to Port Waikato in the south.

Call 0800 569 568 or email smokefree@middlemore.co.nz for more information on smokefree services or for advice.

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- Manukau Courier

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