Hineawhi is a 47-year-old Māori woman. She lives in the lower North Island. Hineawhi is the mother of two teenagers.


First cigarette – I was 13.

I currently smoke about 20 rollies on a normal day. The only time I buy tailor-mades is when I’m thinking I’ll just have this packet and then I’m quitting.  

Quit attempts?

I’ve tried to quit – oh, over a hundred times! I always want to quit. I’ve tried everything.  

In the last 30 years, the longest I’ve stopped was probably about 7 months. The other times it would have been only a couple of weeks. 

Healthcare support to stop smoking

Sometimes it helps. I had one lady who was really good, but most of the people that I’ve had only work during work hours. So, if you’re at work too then they aren’t available when you are. They don’t do it at night or after work hours. So, it’s no good. The only other option is if you ring Quitline. 

Tried homegrown tobacco?

I think I have. My cousin had some. It seems a bit hard to access. I think it was about $10 cheaper, but the quality, ugh, there was thick bits in it – like a lot of clumpy bits. 

Tried vaping?

I don’t mind vaping. I’ve tried it, but I couldn’t find the right one for me. I either break it by mistake, I don’t read the instructions, I don’t use it properly or I’m just not buying the right one. I’ve been to a vape store. Maybe they were just busy at the time – I’ve asked twice – it wasn’t helpful. I went to another good shop about 20 minutes away and I asked about the type of vapes and strength of liquid, but they didn’t know either.

I’ve tried about 3-5 different types of vapes – electric, one with a juice, one that’s a pen etc. They end up breaking or I end up wasting them. 

Banning smoking in cars

It’s not good for the health of our children to smoke in the car. So yeah, banning smoking in cars, that’s okay.   

Tobacco tax increases

Oh, I just think they’re making money off of our addiction, off of our health, or illness. The price affects me., I rarely go to a hairdresser or a dentist. I mostly shop at second-hand shops. But I still buy tobacco because I’m addicted and, even though I’ve tried stopping over a 100 times, I haven’t been able to kick the habit yet.

Smokefree 2025

All these quit programmes and stop-smoking people and organisations – I haven’t found them helpful for myself. The reason I haven’t found them helpful is because their approach is very clinical. It’s like, “You need to patch, you need to do all these things, you need to …” whatever else, and do these strategies and then you can quit. But, like, where are our voices in that? When do we get to say the strategies that we think will help us quit? Nobody ever asks us what we need to quit. If you do say something to the quit-smoking people, they just say, “Oh no, you don’t do that – you have the option of these patches, or it’s just gum”. Well, I don’t want either of those. They don’t work for me. And then you fall outside of that.

They need to listen to us smokers. There are others, you know, we wanna be able to shape or create those solutions for ourselves. I look forward to doing that. 


Initially I smoked more ‘cause of the anxiety around that whole COVID situation. My stop-smoking person dropped some patches into the mailbox, the lowest strength because that’s all she had, which meant I had to wear 3x 7mg matches at once. This doesn’t work for me and I told her that. Again, I wish stop-smoking organisations would listen to us and let us co-create our own strategies and solutions and support us to do that. So, I just bought tobacco from the supermarket.



2 months later…


The price has gone up. Including the papers and the filters, it’s just under $77 now. It was just under $72 before. That’s way too expensive for me because my income’s decreased a bit.

I’ve got to figure something out, a way of stopping or move into the vapes so that it’s a comfortable transition, because it’s just too expensive.


I went into the new big vape shop in town. The lady there was very helpful. So I bought a vape and she set it up for me, and I watched her and took photos. But I don’t know, maybe I just get the wrong ones. I’ve got to take it back - it leaks. And I think the strength of the nicotine that I bought is just way too strong, I just cough all the time. I went for 30mgs and menthol. Then I went back and got a 6mg in caramel.  There might’ve been some residue of the 30mg in there that might be causing me to cough. I’ll probably go for the 3mg next.

The first week I tried just vaping for 2 days. But I was just coughing and coughing.  When I went down to the 6mg, I was still coughing. I still have tobacco and it doesn’t do that – not to the extent that I cough every time. So, I went back to having rollies, tobacco. Then I’d try another vape. I’d cough again and be like oh no, so, I didn’t vape much.

So, I need to get around to taking it back.

Tried other nicotine products?

I’ve tried the patches, the gum and those lozenges. The patches just gave me blisters. At work, if I know we’re going into back-to-back meetings, I use some gum and lozenges to try and get through those 8 hours. It takes the edge off. But I make up for it at night, by smoking a lot. If I run out of tobacco and payday’s a day or 2 away, then lozenges it is.

There is a recommended dose, but I can’t remember what that is. One lozenge will usually be okay for 2 to 3 hours and then I might need another. The ones that I have are only 2mg.  I figured it’s gotta be better than smoking. I’m not using it to quit. Mum also smokes, so I can borrow some from her and then pay her back on payday. While I’m relying on lozenges, I get headaches. I feel dehydrated and if I go longer than 3 days, I can’t sleep. I get cranky. I think that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t been able to stop. They say if you can just make it through 3 weeks – but it’s a bit difficult, when you really need to get some good sleep, to make it for 3 weeks. 

What would help?

I’d be keen if there were people that get together to discuss in a group session what is the best vape for them – their experiences, if they’ve had vape or other products. That’s how I got on to this vape. My cousin was vaping nutty caramel and I tried it and it was really sweet, it didn’t make me cough at all. That’s why I went to nutty caramel. But I think it was her machine. Her machine was like $250. I was nah, I can’t afford it, so I bought a $60 one. But yeah, the chance to meet with others, where people can say, oh I tried this or that machine, if you open the valve, the airway thing, you’ll get a smoother vape… that kind of a discussion would be helpful.

6 months later...

I still smoke cigarettes during the night, but I’ve found a vape that’s alright that I use in the daytime. I’m quite happy about that.

I couldn’t take back the one that was leaking. I couldn’t find the receipt. I just got a smaller one, and it’s been through the wash even and it’s still alright. Then my aunty bought me a disposable one, ‘cause I really liked the flavour. It’s a little bit stronger. If it wasn’t so strong, and if it wasn’t disposable, I’d be happy smoking that one. I’ve got this other one and it’s grape, strawberry, and caramel. I wouldn’t recommend the nutty caramel. Anyway, I’m just vaping it until it’s gone and then I won’t put any more in it. The grape is 3 milligrams of nicotine, and the strawberry is 6 milligrams. So, I mix them together. It’s a bit of a trial-and-error process.

Switching from smoking to vaping

I haven’t been able to get myself to stay on the vape at night. It’s like I’m thinking, I’ll vape on this because, when I get home tonight, I’ll be able to have a cigarette. I’m almost craving it, like it’s a treat – which is terrible.

I’m spending less on smokes, but I probably make it up with buying the liquids. Once I get the combination of vape liquids and flavours right, then I’ll be saving. But then you want to try different ones. That’s what my cousins tell me. It’s $20 for a bottle and I’m never going to vape that whole bottle. I know that because I share it or give it away to somebody if I’ve had enough of that one. They’re big bottles.

Health professional support to stop smoking

I was at work – where we walk up hills – and I was out of breath. I was walking with my colleague – she’s Pākehā. She goes, “I went to the doctor, and they gave me this inhaler, and she showed it to me. And she was like, “So I just take a puff of this,” and then she’s fine walking up the hill. So I thought I’ll go to my doctor and get the same thing. Well, I got sent to hospital for a lung x-ray to see if I’ve got COPD and to have a blood test. I was like, oh, I just came for an inhaler. Anyway, it doesn’t appear that I’ve got COPD, and next I’m having a spirometry test.

The doctor did say, “Do you want a stop-smoking-coach?” I was like, “Yes. I did have my name down for one, but she never called me.” She looked it up and goes, “Oh, she texted you once.” I was like, “Well I don’t remember. She probably did but can you tell her, if I don’t reply, follow that up because maybe I was just busy at the time and I missed it. Like, ring until you get hold of me.” So anyway, she hasn’t texted or rang. I’ve kept an eye on my phone, and it’s been about 3 weeks. I wanted to tell her about my vaping because the doctor said that they have vapes. Not the vapes that you buy from the shop – some other vape, and I was keen to have a look at that.

Quit attempts

I haven’t done the patches and lozenges again. If I did all of that, I could probably give stopping smoking another good go. But I don’t want burns on my arms from the patches anymore, or missing sleep. I need my sleep otherwise I’m very grumpy. The stop smoking people say it’s a myth — that smoking doesn’t destress you. I’m like, well it does for me.

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