When Peter Williams visits smokers in their homes he gives them his famous quote: "I'm your coach, I'm not a judge."
The Whakapai Hauora smoking cessation coach works to help the country meet its goal of being smokefree by 2025.
"I monitor people's motivation to quit smoking," he says. "My core business is getting referrals, going to people's homes and talking to them about ways we can help them quit.
"I call them up, tell them where I got their name and number so they're not like ‘who are you, why are you calling me', and ask, can I come by and visit. It's a bit more magic face to face - on the phone you can just say nah, thanks for the call."
Mr Williams says there are about 7000 smokers in the MidCentral District Health Board area and in the ideal world doctors would refer them all to the cessation services. "Most people want to quit and like to try but they don't have much success with patches and the like," he says. "There are all these things on the market and people are asking questions but sometimes it just goes back to behaviours and emotion.
"I saw one lady having a hard time picking a quit date, she's so nervous, so I said maybe you're not ready - you're stressing yourself and I'm not offended if you look at next year."
Mr Williams applied for the newly created role in 2011 after helping mothers and babies in Porirua.
"I've got a social work background and I got a degree at 53, I could never believe it," he says. "When the position came up I thought I have the background and I'm not afraid to go to people's homes and talk to them about their problems.
"I like to think when I'm in my sixties people would come to me. I'll be tired of home visits when I'm in my sixties."
Mr Williams sees meeting people face to face as a perk of the job but if he can help them to quit smoking, that's the ultimate.
"I've probably had more failings than successes but I love relationships with people so I wouldn't leave with a sour taste," he says. "I like to feel I can come back or if they want to try again I like to think they will come back."
Group cessation is the new direction the team is having success with, Mr Williams says.
"A group takes on a life of its own, it has a dynamic so people start sharing," he says. "So in the first two weeks we do all the talking but by the third week I have to try to gag myself - not to say something, and let the group take its course."
Mr Peters says that for some people quitting smoking is an endless challenge while others cope better with giving up.
"Sometimes we're just planting seeds so we are never sure how it will come about but when someone comes up and says it's been three months, it's like job security, you know," he says. "My famous quote to people when they come in is ‘I'm not a judge, I'm a coach'."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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