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.