Supporting Cantabrians to quit smoking

Sue Aitken, Kaiārahi, Team Leader – Health Promotion Programmes, has one simple smoking cessation message:

“We don’t expect practices to provide the actual support themselves. They are far too busy. Please refer your patients to a specialised quit coach via ERMS.”

It’s simple and easy to do. Specialised quit support is provided through Te Hā-Waitaha Smokefree Support (THWSS). Te Hā translates to “The Breath”. THWSS have 11 quit coaches and the patient will be allocated a fully-qualified quit coach.

“Over the past year, we’ve noticed a significant drop in referrals to Te Hā-Waitaha Smokefree Support from primary care. We encourage practices to continue to offer smoking cessation support to patients. People are under a lot of stress yet many still want help to quit smoking.”

It’s evidenced that with specialised quit support, smokers are more likely to quit. In addition, the service provides Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) completely free and there are incentive programmes available for Hapū Māmā (pregnant women) which are very effective.

Although, the ABC team has been diverted to support the COVID-19 response at times, they’ve still managed a very successful year.

The team’s major success this year was achieving equity for Māori patients in terms of being offered cessation support. Historically, Māori patients were offered support at a lower rate than non-Māori.

“In Pegasus practices, on average, we now have Māori being offered cessation support at the same rate as non-Māori. One of the ways we have achieved this is the Pegasus ABC Team supports practices with recalls to non-Māori patients, freeing up time for the practice to work equitably and focus on offering smoking cessation to Māori under a holistic approach.”

In addition, the team have been part of a wealth of success stories.

“We’ve had so much positive feedback from clients that have been successful at going smokefree this year. It’s been fabulous to hear stories from individual people. Whether that’s a Hapū Māmā, people with previous addictions or serious mental health issues or just someone who’s been smoking for 20 years and couldn’t give up and now they can,” Sue shares.

One such case was profiled in Pegasus 2025, back in May. With the support of Josh Grenfell, Pegasus Health Quit Coach, and a whole lot of hard work, Ben, quit a 25-a-day, 38 year smoking addiction.

Read the full December newsletter.

Cover image: Stop Smoking Practitioner and Te Hā-Waitaha Quit Coach, Josh Grenfell.