Ariana identifies as both Māori and Pākehā. She’s 26, lives in an outer suburb of Auckland and her partner who lives nearby. She works for a freight company.

I was 15 when I started smoking. It was more out of trying to be cool with everybody else. A lot of the group I hung out with started smoking, and then I just thought it was cool. I thought I was cool. My whole family smoked practically my whole life as well, so it wasn’t really something out of the norm. 

When I told my mother she was like, “Okay, well pay your way” sort of thing, “Feed your own habit if that’s what you’re going to do.”  I’m a bit grumpy about it now, cos I wish she’d turned around and given me a slap on the bum and been like, “No, you’re not going to smoke.”

When I finished school at 16 and started working, I was making my own money so then I just carried on from there. I smoked maybe 5 a day. I still smoke about the same. I don’t wake up and go I need a cigarette. I’ll get in the car and have my first cigarette on my way to work. Then I’ll have one at my first break, my lunch break, my 15-minute break and then one on the way home. And then maybe one at home as well.

If I’m drinking it’s a lot more. Where I catch up with some mates, there’s quite a large designated smoking area outside. I probably wouldn’t even count how many I’d smoke.  I’d go through a 20 pack quite easily. Usually I smoke roll-your-own cigarettes. It’s just dependent on the situation.

Quit attempts

I’ve tried to quit about 4 times. The first time I was about 20 and I tried the patches for about two and a half weeks. But then I had really, really bad vivid dreams. Like ridiculously worse than being a kid having nightmares. Really bad. I never slept with them on ’cause they said not to. But those wicked dreams, I was like no, not doing that. But then I did try them again and I still had bad dreams.

The third time, I tried the gum. I didn’t like the taste and it didn’t put me off smoking.

The most recent time, at the end of last year at some point – I don’t remember when it was – I gave up for maybe a week and a bit. I just tried to give up cold turkey. I had a big drink one day and I felt really gross the next day, and I was like oh, maybe this would be the superb time to give up smoking.  So, I was like, okay, I’m just going to stop. A few days went by and I wasn’t so bad, and then once again I was just around smoking – a lot of people smoke where I work and it’s the temptation. I don’t like to be the person who asks for cigarettes. You know, you don’t buy them ’cause you don’t want to smoke them, but then you’re like, ooh I really want one. When I had a smoke after that few days of not having any, the first cigarette tasted gross. Then you just carry on doing it and then it’s back to normal.

If I were to fall pregnant tomorrow I would stop straight away. Because it’s not my life, it’s not just my life, it’s another life I have to think about.  It’s weird how you’re all good to go and care for someone else’s life but not your own.  I’m pretty sure that if I could manage nine months, you know, why not just stick at it?  I don’t really want my kids to want to smoke either when they get older. If I don’t smoke then they’re not going to want to. Because I sort of thought it was a cool thing when my parents were doing it.  So, that’s something I want to change for my own kids.

I don’t think that kids should be subjected to it.  So, I mean, anyone who smoked in a house with kids I’m not really for, because they’re not asking to get second-hand smoke.  If I ever have my nephews or nieces or my younger cousins in the car, I wouldn’t dare smoke.  I’ll wait until they’re out of the car and I never smoke inside.

Tried vaping?

I did try and vape. This might have been going back maybe about 3 months ago. I didn’t like it. There’s the burn you get down your throat that you get from a cigarette that’s quite satisfying to me and I didn’t get that from the vape. I didn’t like the taste of it. I didn’t feel like that would be a substitute that I would enjoy.

Where I live, there are 2 who smoke cigarettes and 1 who vapes, and at my partner’s house everybody vapes.  A lot of my family members now vape – my father, my stepmother, my brother-in-law and a couple of my friends from work who were smokers, they’ve all started vaping. It’s different for me – it’s like cigarettes or no cigarettes sort of thing.

Taxing tobacco

I don’t think it’s really helping. A lot of people who are poor – I guess if cigarettes go up and you’re addicted, you’re still going to go and get your cigarettes. Different people have different situations.

I’m in a situation where I can quite comfortably afford to smoke. I get paid monthly and I allocate a certain amount for cigarettes, and that’s all that I have and I just make sure that it lasts me. But I do have those visions in the back of my mind, like oh I could be saving this much a month and then you calculate it to this much a year, and it’s like, oh! That does sort of sit at the back of my mind.

I think they should be making tax elsewhere. Putting tax up on alcohol would probably be better. I understand people go into hospital with lung cancer and all that, so fair call to tax smoking, but they should be doing that with alcohol. There’s a lot worse that comes from alcohol straight away than with cigarettes, like all the drunk drivers, people crashing, arguments – a whole lot of stuff.

Legalising cannabis

I’ve tried it. I don’t smoke it. I don’t really like it – I’d rather have a couple of beers. I have nothing against it actually. If you were to say to me, “Would you prefer cannabis or would you prefer alcohol, like, what would be better for society?” I would say it would be cannabis, because not a lot of good comes from alcohol from what I’ve seen throughout my life.  I’ve honestly not seen anyone have a bad experience with cannabis, besides having a bit much and then going to sleep. Well, that’s just my take on it.