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Did you know that 59% per cent of Selwyn residents have never smoked, compared to 56% per cent of residents in the rest of New Zealand? We also have a slightly higher percentage of ex-smokers than the national average. Both of these statistics bode well for our progress as a region in becoming smokefree by 2025.

The goal of making New Zealand essentially a smokefree nation by 2025 was put in place by the National Government in 2011. The aim of this goal is not to point the finger at smokers but to try and reduce the terrible consequences of smoking on the health of smokers and those that live with them.

Lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer death in New Zealand. Often people with the disease have few or no symptoms and this means the cancer is not detected until it is very advanced and has spread to other parts of the body. Around 2,000 people in New Zealand each year are diagnosed with lung cancer and, of these, around 10 to 15 percent are non-smokers.

For the 11.6% per cent of people in Selwyn who still smoke there is support available for anyone would like to give up for the sake of their own health or that of their family or to save money.

If you would like help to stop smoking, you can contact Quitline on 0800 778 778 or by texting 4006. The Quitline advisors can help you create a personalised plan to help you stop smoking and can provide you with a Quitcard which you can take to your local pharmacy to get access to subsidised nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.

Vaping and electronic cigarettes can also be used to help smokers to transition from nicotine. My colleague Nicky Wagner has recently submitted a private member’s bill aimed at introducing some formal regulations that will allow vaping to be used as a tool to help long-term smokers quit while not encouraging non-smokers to start.

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