Quit scheme fails with Maori, Pasifika smokers

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 02/07/2013

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Few Maori and Pasifika people in Manawatu are stubbing out the habit through a dedicated quit scheme.

The Te Ohu Auahi Mutunga service, targeting Maori, Pacific Island and pregnant women, has been struggling to make a difference, with people either opting out or being unsuccessful in their attempt to quit.

In the three months to September last year nine people successfully quit from a total 320 GP referrals.

In the same period there were 192 refusals to enter the service, according to a MidCentral District Health Board community and public health advisory committee report.

The following three-month period to December saw 214 referrals and a better success rate.

Just over 50 people set quit dates, 17 exited as non-smokers and 11 as smokers - 24 either withdrew or refused further contact.

MidCentral District Health Board senior portfolio manager for primary healthcare, Craig Johnston, said the health board was aware Maori and Pasifika smoking rates were not reducing as quickly as rates in the general population.

"Ultimately success for the Te Ohu Auahi Mutunga service will be when the number of Maori and Pasifika smokers drops to a similar level as the rest of the population," he said. "Already we have seen reported smoking rates drop from a high of 42 per cent to 39 per cent, which is a promising start."

The service was launched in the MidCentral region in December 2011 to replace existing health board-funded quit smoking schemes.

Smokers are referred to the service by their GP where they are assisted to quit with various tools, including quit coaches.

Mr Johnston said Te Ohu Auahi Mutunga was a relatively new service and still finding its feet.

"Over the next six months the health board is wanting to see an increase in the number of people being referred into the service, and the number of people successfully quitting smoking," he said. "Not everybody referred into the service is ready to quit on day one."

ASH spokesman Michael Colhoun said: "It shows how addictive nicotine is and it shows quitting smoking is not a simple process.

"It's got to be remembered it does take 14 quit attempts on average for someone to give up smoking."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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