Puawānanga is a 37-year-old Māori wife and mother of 3 children. She lives in a coastal suburb of a North Island city and works as an event organiser.


I began casually smoking from about the age of 13 – I’d have the odd cigarette. I buy tailor-mades from the dairy or the gas station. I did roll-my-owns for a few years when I was younger. I’ve probably been smoking menthol for about the last 5 years. After my third child was born, going from not smoking for a year, I found normal cigarettes too harsh. Obviously, I stopped smoking during all my pregnancies.

I smoke probably around 10 a day – it kind of varies. I run events and so have early starts for those – they’re quite stressful. When I’m working, I tend to smoke earlier in the mornings. When I’m at home I don’t tend to smoke much during the day. Like during lockdown, I probably smoked less than I usually would because I don’t like to smoke around my children and they were home from school.

Taxing tobacco

I don’t think the tax has affected me. I only smoke what I can afford to smoke which is two or three packets a week and I haven’t noticed a huge jump. Obviously, ‘cause I’m a smoker, you know, I don’t like them. But I suppose, I appreciate that it might deter my children from wanting to smoke when they are older.

Banning smoking in cars

I’m the only smoker in my house and I don’t smoke inside. It’s probably been in the last 12 months that I have started occasionally smoking in the car, if I’m heading to work and running late or something. I was always conscious when my kids were young that I wouldn’t smoke in the car because I didn’t want it to go on the car seats or anything like that. But I think I do agree with the ban on smoking in cars when children are in it.

Healthcare help to stop smoking?  

About six months ago I picked up a prescription for some nicotine patches. But I am yet to start. I probably should quit, I guess. I haven’t really set myself a date or anything to quit. Last time I was in hospital, a few weeks ago, they sent someone around to see me who was from one of the stop-smoking services.  But it was just as I was being discharged, so we never really got to talk.

I find they’ve been a lot bolshier recently. Every time you say that you are a smoker, they give you the stern warning and they tend to link the smoking into it, and sort of blame it, you know, for my health issues – I’m diabetic.

Tried vaping?

I tried vaping the menthol and I tried like a subtle flavour as well. I wasn’t a huge fan. I found that it was actually harsher on my throat – like, it made me cough. 

Smokefree 2025

I’m a bit sort of dubious as to whether it would work. Just because I think if people are gonna smoke, they’re gonna smoke regardless. 

Legalising cannabis?

I don’t smoke marijuana. I don’t think it’s gonna do too much harm if they were to legalise it.



2 months later….

I had family come to stay for about a week and they’re quite heavy smokers. They smoke a lot more frequently than what I do. I found that when my sister would start up and they’re having cigarette time, then I’d go out for a smoke too.

I noticed I feel quite conscious of how much I smoke and I noticed that I was smoking more. I think I’ve probably gone back to what I usually smoke, which is maybe 10 or 12. And yeah, that’s probably the only difference for me. 

My first smoke for the day is normally after an hour of waking up.

If I was to think about quitting, the main reason would be probably to get a bit healthier for my age.



4 months later…

We’ve had a few events on. Family came and stayed. And we went to a summer music festival, and were camping.

There are not as many people smoking at events like that now. It used to be everywhere. Now they have allocated areas around the music stages for smoking. Everyone is free to smoke in the campsite wherever they like. But I didn’t notice a huge amount of people smoking.

I probably smoked more. When I’m working events, it’s quite stressful. So, I do tend to smoke more on the weekends when I have events, as opposed to weekdays. Most weekdays I’d smoke about 10 a day and then on the weekend I might smoke maybe 15, or so. When my sister and her husband were here, I smoked a lot more because they’re quite heavy smokers and every hour, they were like oh a coffee and a cigarette kind of thing. So, definitely smoked more when they were staying. 

Tried vaping?

A couple of my workmates have started vaping. They vape at work in between breaks and at morning tea, and at lunchtime they’ll have a cigarette. They vape in between that. I haven’t thought about it much more. I do have a vape at home that I bought a few years ago and I thought, oh I’ll try that, but I haven’t picked it back up again. 

Healthcare support to stop smoking

I haven’t seen a doctor. But I have noticed definitely they’ve ramped up the quit-smoking ads. I do find actually, when I’m sitting there with my husband and kids, they come on quite frequently on TV. Lately, I get quite nervous when they come on. I definitely feel a bit guilty, ha ha.  Affordability It’s pretty similar for me as before. I’m quite aware that I can afford to smoke, so I smoke. I’m very big on people who can’t afford to smoke should be knuckling down and trying to quit. My mother’s a heavy smoker and has just the pension as her income. I notice that she’ll sacrifice other things to be able to afford cigarettes, which makes me quite cross. If she can’t afford to smoke, she shouldn’t be smoking. She used to live next door to us. Then when my dad passed away, she moved into a pensioner unit just so she could afford to pay her rent. It wasn’t feasible her living by herself.

Smokefree 2025 - What if there was only low or no-nicotine tobacco?

I did read something like they were thinking about doing nicotine-free cigarettes. I think as long as the taste was still similar, then I think it would be great if you didn’t have the addictive side in the cigarettes. I guess it’d be a win-win situation. But it would have to be like you were having a cigarette, but in your brain you’re thinking okay, I’m satisfied, I’ve had a cigarette sort of feeling.

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