Moana is a 63-year-old Māori wife, mother and grandmother from Northland. She works fulltime in the education sector and is pursuing a higher degree.

Smoking is the go-to habit that I’ve had for such a long time that I just do it. I think it’s just habit. If I don’t have any cigarettes at home, I’ll drive 20 minutes to town just to get a packet of cigarettes. I get up about 5am so that I can go and have a cigarette.
I go to work about 7:30am. But then, I won’t have a cigarette till I get home at 6, or 6:30 at night. And if it’s cold I don’t bother going outside again to have another one. I haven’t smoked in a car for years and I don’t smoke when I’m working. That’s just a decision that I made –it doesn’t matter where I work, I don’t smoke at work. Lots of people don’t even realise that I smoke because I don’t do it other than when I come home.

For me, smoking is a stress release. If things get really busy or stressful at work or if we have stressful relationships at home – then I’ll wanna have a cigarette. I suppose when you think you don’t have control of stuff, or you get so frustrated that you feel like you don’t have any other way – I’ll go and have a smoke. It calms me down a bit, but then I’ll tend to just keep wanting to have a smoke after that. So, I’ll probably smoke more.

Sometimes I might only have 2 smokes a day. Unless I have a few drinks, then I’ll smoke my 5. If I’m drinking with others who smoke I will smoke more, but when I’m at home I’ll control it more. Lots of people I mix with socially don’t smoke. They know I’m a smoker, so I’ll just go outside and smoke. 

Support to stop smoking?

I don’t go to the doctor a lot. But when I do or I’ve had to be in hospital for different things, they give you the, you know, the no-smoking stuff. And then that’s it, they don’t say anything else after that. “Are you interested?” And, I just say, “No.”

I’ve got 1 son who’s a smoker, the other 3 aren’t. My husband – he was a heavy smoker, but he decided one day, I think he was getting headaches – so he just gave up. He had a bet and never looked back. He would like me to give up – he’s worried about my health. All of my mokopuna would like me to stop. Their whakaaro is, tiaki i tō tinana, look after your body. We want you to still be around and all that sort of stuff.

But I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I want to. If I want to, I probably will. It’s got to be my choice. I know what all the health risks are. But what I really hate is society telling me what I can and what I can’t do.

Quit attempts

Mum knew someone she said could help. So, she took me to get some support from a health worker who gave me some patches, but they were the really strong ones – so strong they sent me into really bad withdrawals. I was hyperventilating, had heart palpitations, was sweating and I felt really sick. Another whānau member who works in health said to me, “You need to take that patch off”.  She said the problem was I was in an overdosed state. So I took it off and after that I thought, yeah, I’m not doing that again

I’ve tried to stop 3 or 4 times since then just trying to do it on my own. 

Tried vaping? 

I have tried vaping. I’ve tried twice for maybe about a month. But yeah, I don’t like it. It’s really dry. It gives me a really sore throat. And I didn’t like the taste, so I stopped doing it.


Oh yeah, that causes tension. Because they’re expensive. There was a time earlier on this year where I was smoking, like, lots. And my husband sorta went to me, “You know, that’s a lot of money, you’re spending a lot of money.” So, I tried rollies to cut the cost down but, again, that’s really harsh. And so now, I’m down at like 5 cigarettes a day. Whereas I could smoke like 4 or 5 packets a week.

Taxing tobacco

It’s just Government taking money to fund themselves. I don’t think it’s about trying to stop people from smoking – it’s, you know, more fund grabbing.