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Helping young parents live a smokefree life

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The Whakahau Ora programme that incentivises young parents to give up smoking is proving successful, with nearly 90 people signed up in the latest round.

​Whakahau Ora is run by Te Wakahuia, a Highbury-based community trust, and aims to help young parents give up smoking for the good of them and their children. Originally the scheme was set up just for pregnant mothers, but it became apparent to the staff at Te Wakahuia that to break the cycle of smoking, the whole household needed to be smokefree.

Under the scheme, vouchers are provided to the person who stops smoking, and they continue to receive them over a sixteen week period, as long as they stay smokefree. The vouchers are for shops that benefit the family, including fruit and veggie shops, butchers, and sometimes the Warehouse or Kmart to help get clothes for the babies.

Julie Robb-O’Connell, a midwife/mātanga at Te Wakahuia has been working closely with those in the programme, and asked two of them to share their stories.

She said: “Smoking is so often a cycle that gets passed down from generation to generation. What we are trying to do here is stop the parents from smoking before the kids learn from them and pick up the same habit. When both parents aren’t smoking, the health and financial benefits for these young adults and their children are just enormous.”

Rongomai Mikara has eight weeks to go before the birth of her little girl, and she’s put the cigarettes down since the scan confirmed she was pregnant. 

She said: “I’d always said that I would give up if I got pregnant. When I had the scan and realised it really was happening, I knew that I had to give up then. It wasn’t easy, and I’m lucky that my partner doesn’t smoke, so he was able to help me through the process.

“My midwife told me to come and talk to Te Wakahuia, and they’ve been a great help. I totally cut out the cigarettes with a bit of help from NRT [Nicotine Replacement Therapy], and I feel much better. You definitely notice the difference in your health and your bank account.”
Devlin Rodgers has a young son, and is determined to be a role model for him.

He said: “Smoking was just unaffordable, living on student money with board and food to pay for. What really got me was when I was outside smoking one night and my son came out. He had a piece of lego in his hand and started pretending to smoke it. It was right then that I knew I had to stop. I took up smoking when I saw people around me do it, and I knew that the same thing would happen to my son if I carried on.

“My partner contacted Julie and I got this phone call from her asking if I wanted help to quit. I was already on that path, but that phone call was the final push. I’ve since taken up exercise as a way to get the same rush as I did from smoking, and when everyone else at work is having their ‘smoko’ I have morning tea. I no longer feel sick if I don’t have a cigarette, and I’ve stopped coughing up horrible stuff all the time. Best of all, I can now afford to buy and run a car.”

If you or someone you know is a smoker, and lives in the same house as a young pregnant woman or young child, they might be eligible for the scheme. Contact Te Wakahuia on (06) 357 3400. The scheme is currently available in Palmerston North, Feilding and Dannevirke.

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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