Tane is a 35-year-old Māori who lives rurally. He was seriously injured in an attack several years ago, but is finally able to work part time.


I’m lucky. I’m living near other whanau. My mum and dad live in the house in front of my little shack. Just me and my mum smoke. 

Smoking History

I didn’t start smoking until 21. It was boredom. I was working minding a 16-year-old, high-risk child.  He was allowed $50 a week and he was allowed tobacco, believe it or not, at that time. I didn’t smoke or do anything. So, we were stuck in this house 24/7 for months on end, and from time to time he was like, “Wanna smoke bro? Wanna smoke bro?” You know, is that dumb? I regret the whole bloody thing. Bloody cigarette. He rolled me one and I said, “Okay I’ll have one.” And then it gradually moved on from there. Jesus Christ! 

Working in the music industry, you could end up being a bloody chimney. When I used to get up earlier for work, I used to have a ciggie like at 6 in the morning.  Sometimes, I had one when I used to get up in the night to go for a bloody piss, I did that for several years. But I sort of got sick of it. I felt like I was smoking too much just for smoking’s sake. I actually like enjoying the cigarette. If you can space it out you actually enjoy it a lot better then.

The last few years, I’ve actually gotten better at it. I more or less want a ciggie after 9.30ish. Then I’m good for like one every 2 or 2 and a half hours.

I’m usually sitting on tailies, mainly because I can’t really afford to get the 50 gram the whole time – that’s like $100. So, I’m spacing out little taily packets.

Quit attempts?

I’ve been in rehabilitation since this guy tried to murder me. It’s been a bit slow and my arm still doesn’t do what it’s supposed to be doing on the keyboards.

After the attack, when I was in hospital, they tried to get me off smoking. They were hammering me with, “You’re not gonna get better if you keep smoking”.  They were saying, “Your arm’s gonna fall off”. That was more the scare for me. I didn’t touch any ciggies for a month, like they said, so the bone could repair itself. They kept on at me like that for a month. A stop-smoking service lady used to come round and hassle me all the time with her smoke-free stuff and trying to keep up to date on how I was. I was really hanging out. As soon as I got out of hospital, I went back straight to smoking. When I left the hospital, I just didn’t reply to her. 

They gave me gum and patches. Those patches are worth like a $100 upwards in jail, depending on the day. Well that’s where they all ended up going – I was doubling my money. I mean, gee!

I tried to stop smoking when I went to jail one time, a few years ago. I actually went in with the mindset I was gonna clean off.  But when I got there everything was inside, so I didn’t bother.

I know enough now from my mates that have quit. They’ve all told me the same thing that if I want to give up I have to really, really want to. And at the moment I really don’t want to. I actually enjoy a cigarette sometimes. I’m not gonna waste my time trying to give up until I want to give up.

Ever tried to grow your own? 

I tried growing my own, but it was too much hassle. Then I found out I could legally import tobacco in leaf form and the sweetener. I was allowed 5kgs max. Then I just had to get the stalks off. Yeah, there was a little bit of detail in it especially when you’ve got a big 5kg load. Then I had to mash it, mouli it down with an automatic blender and make sure I didn’t dice it down like too thinly. You want it more stringy – that’s what I noticed the customers wanted. 

I did that for like 4 or 5 years, 2 or 3 times a year. The first couple of 5kgs I just smoked. Smoking normally, that lasted me 8 months. It was a beautiful smoke by the way. It had a nice, sweet taste to it – it was bloody yum.

But, I didn’t quite get the drying down properly – it still dried out a bit more than I wanted so it started burning a lot faster. That was my only bloody problem. I left it in a bloody cupboard one time for like a couple of months.  Came back and some of it was thick with mould. I had to keep it in the fridge to keep it moist. I wasn’t an expert in the matter, I was only just learning from other people that were doing the same thing. There were heaps of people doing it. So, after that I started selling a couple of bags just to buy me a proper packet. 

Last year, that was my last load. You can’t import leaf no more because our country’s shut that down. I was like, oh ratshit.  See, the loophole was that 5 kgs, including buying it, pulling all that twig out, losing about 600-800 grams a kg, packaging it and moving it, cost $583. I was getting 32 x 50gram packs. Buying that would cost like $3000 or more.

Tried vaping?

Several years ago I had a try. I didn’t think much of it. And all I was doing was trying to get the bigger hit. I was always hitting them past 8 milligrams. But, I didn’t like the flavours. I like the taste of the tobacco. It just wasn’t my thing, I guess. Also, I heard some negative things. I can’t say I heard in detail what they were, but I just heard a couple of things. It would be a lie for me to say that didn’t influence me a little bit to stop it. Plus it didn’t feel cool, didn’t feel authentic. It’s different when you pull the smoke out of the packet and you light it. I actually enjoy that part of it, like when you’re making a cup of tea and you’re being thoughtful as you’re stirring it. I like the first puff, the ritual of preparing yourself for your cigarette. It’s probably half of the reason why it’s so hard to get off it. 

Smokefree 2025

They’ve had that in the planning for like the last decade, am I right? The truth – I just see the irony of how they’re trying to stamp it out one end but at the same time tax the other end, thinking that that’s gonna be the solution to stop people from smoking. That’s like telling one side guns are dangerous and then giving the other side the ammunition. I see the complexities of it. I don’t think it’s gonna work. It sounds like a joke.

It’s hard nowadays ’cause you’re a lot more mindful of civilians watching you in front of your kids. Or, smoking in the car and shit. You get these odd looks. I’m not gonna deny that you don’t feel it. It was a year ago when I first started feeling that type of stuff. About knowing not to start lighting up. I’m actually wary now, even in front of kids. I’d rather not.



2 months later…

I’ve just been doing a couple of editing jobs. It’s about 31 hours. It’s not what I’d love to be doing but it’s cool. I’d rather be doing full audio-engineering work or more work out of office.

I’m still smoking the same. I always try to maintain don’t go past 2 packets in 1 day. 

Healthcare support to stop smoking

The local Māori health service give you random texts about quit smoking programmes sometimes. I see the odd quit programme ad on the board at probation, but I pass on that, you know. 

Taxing tobacco

The annual increases – if I recall, that was an incentive to make people give up – I think that’s wrong. I know for a fact that it’s actually driven up the price on the street. With all these illegal cigarettes coming in, they’ve rounded them up to the nearest zero, so they’re at least $20. Before that, they were $10. Cigarettes today, they’re between $29 and $35 for a packet of 20.  If they went up to almost $40, the black market will round them up to $30. 

People are always hanging out for cheap ciggies. They’re like, oh, I’ve only got $20. And the people selling are like, fuck off with your $20, knowing the person will come back to them. I’ve seen that a lot. It’s lucratised the bloody black market. You’ve got people that look Asian, making heaps of money. Every time they get busted, I don’t know how they’re doing it, but those cigarettes are all still here. 

Tax increases effect on dairy robberies?

From what I’m seeing over the last several years, no – the jackings at the dairies aren’t for ciggies. They’ve lost the plot or something. Maybe they’re doing it to fund another habit. 

Banning where people can smoke…

I didn’t realise banning smoking or vaping in cars when under 18’s are there, was a law. I’ve got a daughter –she’s 17, and some of the kids around her age are bigger than me. I think it’s borderline revenue collecting. There’s a lot of things you could be doing in the car that are probably more relevant than having a cigarette when the kids are in there. There’s multiple other problems the police could be putting their focus on.  

Smokefree 2025

Well, that’s been going around for a decade. They’ve been expressing it every year as to hitting that mark. I just saw it as a political ploy. I think they’re just trying to show face to keep the minority happy. 

I don’t see it as a major thing. You hear it on the news several times a year perhaps. As for fully implementing it, no, I doubt it. They could easily have done that 5 years ago. They could easily have pulled it off the shelves.

Legalising cannabis

I totally supported legalising cannabis. I was dumbfounded when the votes came back.  I was an avid smoker and I’m a supporter of medicinal. I had a nasty accident. With all the pills and everything else they pop you with, it was the CBD, excluding the THC, that took my bone pain away. So, I can vouch for that. I was getting it illegally.

Before my accident, I was a hard-core smoker for 15 plus years. I’ve been off it for 3 years now. It’s funny, I’ve had trouble stopping cigarettes multiple times, but cannabis – I gave that up without any trouble. It was just one of those things, I’d had enough. I had a rest and then, after 3 or 4 months, I felt pretty good. Then I only had a joint about every couple of months, depending on the situation. It doesn’t faze me now – 9 times out of 10 I probably wouldn’t take it. You become that age, I guess.

If the referendum had gone through, the ounces probably would’ve dropped in price and a tinny probably would’ve been bigger at the same price. You would’ve seen a bit of change. In fact, there’s been a bit of change already. Fuck, ounces have gone up to $700, $800. A lot of tinny houses got shut down recently in our hood. Nobody really knows what the hell is going on, even some of the gangs are not sure what’s-what.

I can only talk from my experience. I used to be a gang member. I left the gang when my baby was born. I was supposed to be infertile, man. Then I have this miracle. She came out of nowhere. And that was at the peak of some heavy shit. People were getting murdered. There were some vicious assaults. I couldn’t trust many of my circle. I thought, I’m not gonna hang around and take a bullet. Having her made me question stuff. I believe in karma – what goes around comes around, what you give is what you get. I thought that the universe was telling me not to lose myself.  I took it that way, so that was part of the reason why I took a step back and took off. And I took the consequences with it. I don’t regret that.  You know, I have a big burden off my back. I’m loving life being with her right now.

It's been hard, but I got some counselling from my probation officer. It’s really hard going from making thousands weekly and now I’m a stay-at-home dad looking after my 2-year-old. I can barely bang 2 sticks together. The hardest part’s trying to stay normal.



4 months later… 

Yeah, tryna stay out of trouble, being a stay-at-home dad – still doing the same thing. Still smoking the same, like a packet a day every 24 hours or so.

Time to first cigarette

Normally 6.30am - 7 o’clock I get up, put the jug on and, when I’ve made my coffee, have a cigarette. So, within half an hour.


Well, when you keep paying a bill you get used to it after a while. I pay 150 bucks a week, no fuss. Weird aye though? It’s an issue - it hurts a lot. That’s money I could spend elsewhere. But it’s one of those vices where, after several months, I got used to that money disappearing out the pocket.

I get a brand that’s on the cheaper side and, I get the one that tastes nicer. But sometimes they taste premium, like they’re good, and sometimes they burn a bit faster like they’re dry. I don’t know if they’re two different distribution companies. They just seem a little bit different from time to time. They don’t seem consistent, like same taste. What I look out for is the smell first – before you light it. A good cigarette is one that almost smells like a cigar. There’s a nice, sweet sort of smell to it – not that it’s gonna taste harsh though. That’s what I like.

Black market cigarettes

They’re still around. The only thing is, they burn fast and they’re pretty weak. They’re cheaper.

Aware of other nicotine products

Do they still have patches? I got told they got eradicated. They’re worth a lot in jail, aye. No shit! I’ve seen 5 patches sold for a PlayStation 3. What they do with them in jail – they grab the tea bags, rip the patch open and take out that thing inside, and then they place it on the tea bag. The nicotine absorbs through the bag and they smoke it. Yeah, the nicotine infusion, I swear to God, it’s like 5 joints in 1. You can barely breathe after the first toke. But you’ve got nothing else in there that works.

Tried vaping?

I did try a couple of times. When I first tried it, I was trying to give up smoking. I stopped for about 3 months or so and was just on the vape. It got sickening.  It got to the point where I wanted more kick in my vape juice. I started going for bigger kicks. It wasn’t so much the taste. I wasn’t really into flavoured smoke to start with. I was on these ones that looked like cigarettes that had these yellow butt things I had to click onto them. Yeah, they’re good for like 80+ puffs.

One of my girlfriends had this big block thingy I used to fag out of, and you put juice in it. It seemed more powerful, but it was the feel and the taste of a normal cigarette. But I just wanted a cigarette, so I switched. 

Health professional support to stop smoking

I’m going through a check-up process to get carpal tunnel surgery. If God had told me I’d only have one car for life, I probably would have looked after it a bit more, aye.

They asked me if I smoked, I said yes. They asked me if I wanted to quit, and I said not really, and they left it at that.

A friend told me that because on paper I am a smoker, I’ve probably been pushed to the bottom of the list of the people ready for operation. I’m at the bottom of the list again. I wouldn’t put it past them to do that and I don’t blame them if that was the case. They say smoking doesn’t help most of the problems, so yeah, I’d put them second precedent too, I guess. I don’t know. My tooth one took about, God, a year and a half. 10 years ago, I broke me arm, and was in hospital for a few weeks getting surgeries. I put myself down as a smoker and they were hammering me with anti-smoking stuff. I had this smoking lady in my grill like every second day. 

Quit smoking campaigns

I’ve only seen on Māori TV, a campaign where they’re tryna get you to quit smoking and go to vaping. I thought that was weird. One thing I do recall was the give up smoking, vaping’s better type of approach to it. Haven’t seen anything else.

6 months later...

Same shit, different day ha ha.  No. I’m all right, I’m all right.

I’m still waiting at the moment for the surgery. I got told, because I’m a smoker, they’ve got me at the end of the list. I was told they always just keep the smokers generally at the back. I’ve been waiting for my teeth since December, and still waiting on the carpel tunnel too.  It has its moments – has up and down, but I’d rather them out so it saves me the drama.

I’m doing about a pack a day.  That hasn’t changed ha ha. I’ve been just on tailor-mades lately. Haven’t bought rollies for ages. My first smoke would be 8:30, 9:00.  I usually get up about 8 o’clock. 

Quit attempts?

No. It hasn’t crossed my mind ha ha. I’ve tried gum and those nicotine patches.  Couple of years ago, I gave up for a little bit. It seems a very same process every 3 or 4 years. I try and wean off for about a month or 2, and then I bloody fuck up. Sometimes it’s forced, sometimes it’s not. Yeah. I try, and then I fuck up, then I carry on and it’s, like, harder.

Black market tobacco

Those Chinese cigarettes are still everywhere. But, as for that other tobacco stuff I’ve seen, no.

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