Alicia Hayward knew it was time to quit smoking when she began to notice that all she thought about was when she could go for a smoke.
“I was just always thinking about when I could go outside and have a smoke,” she says. “I was planning my days around when I could have one; that’s when I knew I had to give up.”
Alicia, 18, from Hamilton, says she was a social smoker at first and her habit started from there.
“I was joining everyone at work going on a smoke break and when I went out, then I was smoking at home and just thinking about it all the time.
“Not to mention I just felt yuck all the time too.”
Alicia was referred to a stop smoking programme by Waikato Hospital and her journey to quitting began.
The programme she enrolled in, called Once and For All, is available for free in Hamilton and Waikato and offers intensive behavioural support for smokers with a dedicated Quit Coach.
Facilitated by Pinnacle Midlands Health Network, the programme is available for free at GP practices and health providers throughout Waikato, and is internationally-proven to work.
So far it’s working for Alicia, who says she doesn’t feel any urge to smoke anymore.
“There are heaps of opportunities around me where I could smoke. Lots of my family and friends smoke, but I honestly just don’t even get tempted by it anymore.”
Pinnacle’s General Manager Practice and Network Services Andrew Swanson-Dobbs says the individual and group support the programme provides is what sets Once and For All apart from other quit-smoking programmes.
“We have a group of health professionals who have been trained up as Quit Coaches and are keen to see Aotearoa’s days of smoking behind us.
“Many of these Quit Coaches already have a background in the health industry so they know what they’re talking about when they say that quitting smoking has positive effects from day one.
“But they also have empathy and connect with smokers on a personal level. Many of them know what it’s like to quit – so they’ve come from a place of experience but also respect for the smoker and the journey they’re on.”
For Alicia, it was the support she received from her Quit Coach, Cassino Smith, that helped her the most.
“Cassino is awesome. She didn’t shove anything down my throat by telling me how bad smoking was for me, but she helped me realise it was a decision I had to make on my own.
“Straight away I felt like my meetings with her were like catching up with a friend.”
Alicia is now proudly 4 ½ months smokefree.
About Once and For All
Smokers can sign up to the Once and For All programme online, through their GP or community health provider or by phone. Once enrolled in the programme they pick a target quit date and are supported through their journey with a Quit Coach, and can take part in group or individual support sessions in their home, workplace or in-clinic. Smokers who quit successfully receive a gift voucher to the value of $50.
Once and For All also offers tailored support for pregnant women trying to quit smoking.
To sign up, visit onceandforall.co.nz or phone 0800 6623 4522.