Q&A: Smoking cessation programmes for youth

Jo Butler is a Quit Coach employed by Pegasus Health as part of the Te Hā- Waitaha Smokefree Support programme. She explains what she and her colleagues are doing to support Canterbury’s young people to stop smoking.

| What are rates of smoking among youth?

Today most youth in New Zealand are smokefree with 3% of 15-17 year-olds currently smoking – down from 14% in 2006/07 (Source: Smokefree.org.nz).

| Why is it important we help this group?

They are the future of New Zealand and if we don’t educate them properly, New Zealand won’t be smokefree by 2025. In my view, cigarettes shouldn’t be available to young people. But, as they are we need to provide them with age-appropriate information to help them make better, healthier decisions.
They think differently than adults and have different priorities so need to be supported and educated in a different way.

| How do young people get help?

Myself and the other Quit Coaches take referrals from general practices who have young patients who need help with smoking cessation. We then provide evidence-based, tailored support programmes to either individuals
or groups, depending on what will work best. We run programmes for group in schools and with young mothers.

| How do targeted programmes for youth work?

The way support is offered to schools is tailored to their needs. Some prefer one-on-one support for students, while in other schools a very small group approach works. During sessions, we find focusing on the near future is important as young people often don’t or can’t think about the future implications of smoking but can about something this week, like how it might affect their performance in an upcoming sports game. Our programme for young mothers is done in a larger group as they support each other and have much in common. This group is not limited to those who are smoking but welcomes those who have a partner or family member who smokes so they can learn ways to address this and minimise harm to themselves and their pepi.

To connect a young patient with the Te Hā-Waitaha Quit Coaches, refer via ERMS.


Read the full October newsletter.