Smokers butt out in new year

Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013

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The new year is, once again, being used as a new start for dozens of South Canterbury smokers wanting to kick the habit.

More than 20 smokers from the district "attempted" to give up smoking through Quitline between January 1 to 7. Others attempted to quit alone.

Timaru Herald Facebook readers went online to share their experiences yesterday.

Suzanne Barr said she had been smokefree for a week, with the help of Quitline.

However, many others have managed to quit without help.

Midge McMillan said she tried Quitline a couple of times, but found she was constantly being reminded of smoking.

She finally gave up without using patches, medication or gum.

"It was surprisingly easy," she said.

Vanessa Rayner has been smokefree for about five years.

"I originally stopped to try and make my partner stop . . . found out I didn't need them and he quit a year later."

More than 2100 smokers were added to Quitline's database nationally in the first week of January.

Call volumes increased by 0.3 per cent during that time and website visits by 13.9 per cent. Blog postings have almost trebled with 2476 people blogging in the first week of January, compared with 963 for the same period last year.

Quitline's director of strategy and communications, Bruce Bassett, said the increase in people blogging about their quitting experience had been "phenomenal".

The blogs allow people to communicate with people in their community who have, or are also trying to quit.

One blogger's motivation to others, posted yesterday, was short and to the point.

"Smokefree days: 75 days, Grams NOT smoked: 536, Total savings: $583.00."

Another blogger also went online to share their success rate.

"Smokefree days: 500 days, Cigarettes NOT smoked: 12,500, Total savings: $8,400.00.

"I can't believe that I have been able to achieve what I have, 500 days without a ciggie. I never thought I would ever stop after so many years and attempts."

It is understood people who use Quitline's services are five times more likely to be successful than people who quit alone.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said there were 63,000 quit attempts through Quitline last year - nearly 19,000 more than in 2008.

"By helping people to quit, not only are we reducing the risk of a smoker having a smoking-related disease, such as lung cancer, we are also improving the health of everyone in the family," Mr Ryall said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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