On track for smokefree wedding day
Timaru man Rick Wright is enjoying a new smokefree life - and some substantial savings - after taking a seven-week group therapy programme.
Mr Wright was one of five who took the quit smoking course at the end of last year, and four who have managed to stick to their non-smoking guns for three months.
He had tried to quit four to six times in the 25 years he has been smoking, more often in recent years. He had tried going cold turkey, patches, gum and smoking cessation pills Zyban and Champix.
However, it was the support of hour-long group sessions run over seven weeks, that has done the trick.
He has had a couple of hiccups which led to a cigarette, but overall has succeeded in kicking the habit.
At up to 30 cigarettes a day, smoking both tailormades and rollies since he was 16, he was sending $80-$90 a week of his hard-earned money from Hilton Haulage - well, up in smoke.
That adds up to $4680 a year, and - here's the kicker - $93,000 in 20 years.
"And that's not counting interest or inflation."
On top of that, after 12 months smokefree, his life insurance payments will drop from $30 a fortnight to $15.
As for health benefits "it's probably a bit soon to tell, but I know I'm certainly breathing a lot easier - food tastes different than what it did, which is a good thing."
Despite his previous unsuccessful solo attempts to give up, this time he was feeling really good about his plans to quit.
"I had no excuses to smoke. My excuses in the past were the hours I was working, being tired, being stressed, boredom, nervousness at times.
"Now I can't find any excuses."
He signed up for the new Group Based Therapy (GBT) Programme on Wednesday evenings at Woollcombe House.
The programme consists of two pre-quit sessions where treatment and expectations are discussed - "why people smoke, why it is difficult to quit and dealing with tobacco withdrawal," Smokefree facilitator Jill Robinson said.
The third session is Quit Day.
At every session attendees are carbon monoxide tested and following their quit date their smokefree status is validated.
Normal levels of carbon monoxide in the blood are between zero and six.
Mr Wright's reading at session one was 26. The next week it was 38 and on quit day it was 17.
For the following three weeks - and on his three-month checkup last week - it was only three.
He said the smokaliser did help him stay on track, but it was the group support over a nearly two-month period, and the support from Ms Robinson, that really helped.
"Jill's a really vibrant, positive person, she stays on your case all the time. Of course it's a really good idea being able to support to each other."
He also had the support of his non-smoking fiancee Angela Ferrier who was "totally against smoking."
"I think it is absolutely awesome," Ms Ferrier said.
"I'm just so proud of him, I know it's a hard thing for him to do. He had to do it for himself, not to make me happy. I just think it's just wonderful."
Mr Wright misses smoking occasionally. He has a lot of friends at work who smoke, and some even offer him cigarettes and tell him he won't last.
But Mr Wright is keen to prove them wrong.
He's learnt that having the odd smoke doesn't work.
"It's not something I'm going to go back to. I can enjoy a beer and not even worry about it."
He is adamant smokers need to want to quit and pressure can send them in the opposite direction. But when they are ready, he recommends the course and has told some smoker friends about it.
And as for that $80-$90 a week - that is going toward his big day with Angela. They are getting married in November.
The next Smokefree South Canterbury Group Based Therapy (GBT) Programme starts on February 19.
It runs from 6pm-7pm each Wednesday for seven weeks. Smokefree facilitator Jill Robinson plans to run four programmes a year, and hopes to attract up to 20 quitters to each.
Participants in the free programme get subsidised nicotine patches, gums and lozenges, group support, and inspiring information – such as how much money they will save.
A smokaliser which measures carbon monoxide helps validate their efforts to quit and Ms Robinson continues to provide support through to the last smokaliser test after three months.
The effectiveness of GBT is well established and data suggests groups produce higher success rates than individual treatments. If you are ready to quit, phone 0800 111 880.