Anthony was a thirty-year-old European male who lived in the North Island with his wife and children when we first met him. He has recently moved to Australia with his family.


I began smoking at the end of high school when I was probably 17. It was just at parties and drinking on the weekends. It’s what everyone was doing in my youth.

The year after school, I began more serious smoking when I started training for my qualifications. Most of my peers, my instructors, my role models, were smoking. I started training for my career while I was at school. I knew what I wanted to do, so I went and did it.

I was very successful in my career. I’d been working at that for several years when COVID hit. So, well and truly in the career where I wanted to be, all of a sudden it stopped overnight and we all got made redundant.


Since I got made redundant, I got back into smoking. I’m in agriculture – just until things pass. I’ve been a bit stressed out, transitioning away from my career. Smoking now is probably more of a stress thing or a frustration or a boredom thing ’cause I’m not that stimulated at work. It’s just a mundane 9-to-5. It’s just not my groove.

Quit attempts?

When I started in my first job, I decided to make an effort to protect my medical, ‘cause that’s something I do every year to keep the job.

I was just a casual smoker. I could easily go a month without smoking. So yeah, smoking was completely associated with work. Casual smoking was quite common. So, like other colleagues, I only smoked when I was away on work trips. It was a fun, vibrant sort of workplace with lots of downtime and I’d smoke when we’d have a few social drinks and that sort of thing.

Smoking now

It’s not so bad. Well, it is bad, but yeah, I smoke probably 5 a day. When I go home I don’t smoke ’cause I’ve got 2 kids, so I’m conscious about that and the image that creates. I don’t want them to see me smoking. And my wife hates smoking, so I never smoke around her. It meant that every time that I came back from being away for work, I wouldn’t smoke. So, in a way that broke the habit every time. If I went on annual leave for a month, I wouldn’t smoke for a month because I’d be with her and the family. She, sort of, stopped the habit for me, I guess. I’m real conscious about not smoking around them. I’m sort of a closet smoker. I even only buy smokes in my own time, like on the way to work.

I certainly feel guilty, because I want to get back to my real job and I don’t want it to affect my medical. They check that my lung function is fine on the medical as well.

When the time’s right I might stop smoking, but I think I’ll always be fond of having a cigarette out of enjoyment, not addiction. But that would be like once a month. I’d like to just cut back from where I am now to what I was doing, just casual smoking.

Tried vaping?

I tried vaping – hated it. I actually found the health effects worse for me. I felt the vapour in my lungs and I coughed more. I didn’t get the pleasure out of it. I didn’t have the drag or the actual flavour, like that sort of smoky flavour. I think it’s because when I’m social smoking, I smoke for enjoyment. I don’t believe it’s habit.

So, when I tried it, probably a year and a half ago, I bought a tobacco flavoured vape. I tried to emulate cigarettes as much as I could. But, yeah no, it was just a bit of a novelty.

Bans on where people can smoke and vape…

I think the ban on smoking in vehicles with kids is brilliant. You shouldn’t be affecting other people’s health.

The biggest concern I have is the vaping one. I’ve heard from a teacher about the amount of children vaping at school. They walk past and they smell of watermelon and cherries and all the vaping flavours. It’s a bit of a concern if vaping could become a gateway to cigarettes. If the intended purpose was to try and wean people off cigarettes, that’s fine – but I feel like it’s going in reverse a little bit.

Taxing tobacco

The tax definitely discourages or stops people smoking, or it makes people think. If it doesn’t make them stop, then it makes them hurt financially.

When I was on a good salary, it still made you think twice. You know, you thought you were spending a lot of money on it, unless you were earning good money.

I’ve taken a massive pay cut working in agriculture, so, for my family, I’m conscious about spending disposable income on smoking. If they were free, I’d probably smoke more – so it’s definitely something that’s holding me back.

Legalising cannabis

There was a bit of contradiction there: legalising the smoking of cannabis, yet we’re trying to make New Zealand smoke-free. But I think the biggest reason it got voted down was that people may have agreed with it in principal, but they were concerned about the way it was going to be policed. The secondary effects of it. There was possibly a lack of research. That was the way I approached it. I agree with it in principal, but I’m just concerned about where it might go unintentionally – where it ends up. Sort of like vaping. Vaping was probably created to help people get off smoking, but it can possibly go the other way.



2 months later…

I’m trying to get back into my pre-Covid line of work. I’ve had a few rejection emails. So, I’m still working on the farm, paying the mortgage, in a job that isn’t that inspiring. But yeah, family man, gotta do what I can. It’s not too bad, it’s just not what I wanna do.

There’s some jobs coming up in Japan and Asia so we might have to move over there, which is exciting. We like the idea of moving for something like that. It’s frustrating but as long as there’s a bit of hope, that keeps me mentally happy.

So, I’m trying to enjoy the family life a bit more ’cause I’m home every night now rather than being away and because of that I’m not smoking. Now I’m home every night, there’s no time or place for it.

I’ve had a few cigarettes at work, but I don’t have my own cigarettes. If I had cash, I would’ve gone and bought a pack. But since I use the joint bank account card, my wife would pick up on it. So that’s some good accountability there. If it was $10 a pack, I could probably get away with that. But since the price is up there, it’d be pretty obvious. It’s not ’cause my wife’s controlling but she’ll call me out on it, which is quite good. 

There’s been times, like on a Monday morning when you’ve got a whole week ahead of you that you’re not really into, and you feel like taking it out on a pack of cigarettes. But I haven’t. If I was on my own, I probably would’ve gone back to smoking durries to fill in the time. Which sounds bad.

I’ve probably been drinking more to deal with the frustration and boredom. Just filling the void by having a few more beers than normal, and rubbish food. Yeah, filling my habit with something else. I think it’s still better you know – I could transition out of smoking altogether, which’d be good. And I’ve started running again so I’ve got a bit more energy.

Now I’ve gone past that 2-month milestone, I think I’ll stay stopped as long as no other life event happens. That’s what triggers things. When I lost my job, that was an event.



4 months later…

Our third child was born 3 weeks ago, so I've been pretty busy with that. I've got a month off work, so that’s awesome.

The not smoking is going okay. Since the child’s come, that’s kept me pretty occupied. So long as I'm distracted, I'm pretty good. The missus hates smoking, so sitting around home there's not really any opportunities to smoke. And, I wouldn’t do it in front of the kids.

A couple of weeks before the baby was born I was pretty busy at work, getting a bit pissed off and I felt like a durry, but I didn’t, so yeah. Not too bad.

Seen any healthcare campaigns to stop smoking?

Might have seen something on social media. I can't really remember much around it. To be honest, I’m really not active on TV and media. 

Attitude towards proposed Smokefree 2025 policies - Low or no nicotine tobacco

I think it will help as long as there’s a transition beyond that to actually remove tobacco, full stop.  It’s a good pathway towards smokefree New Zealand. As long as it doesn’t throw people over to vaping. I think the unintended consequences is that vaping becomes the new normal – the new outlet for nicotine rather than what it was intended to be – which was to help people break the cycle. 

Restricting sales of vaping products to licensed specialist stores

I guess as long as there's a pathway to the end. I just wonder how much cost is involved with outlaying all this regulatory framework, when really is it best to bite the bullet?

Every year increasing the legal tobacco purchase age

I quite like the policy that any babies born today, or whatever it was, are unable to buy the stuff. Let the current smokers do their thing and phase smoking out using this age policy, so smoking naturally works its way out. 

Restricting number of tobacco retail stores per geographical area

Maybe do something in the middle via that legal framework around restricting the sale of it, like they do with alcohol in West Auckland.  Only certain outlets sell it so that it’s not in everyone’s faces. It all helps, I guess.

6 months later


I’m still an essential worker, working at a farm. I’ve got a new job lined up, which is cool. Yeah, so that’s something to look forward to. But my base is gonna be in Australia. So, fingers crossed it happens. The longer we’re locked-down and they’re locked-down, they might not be interested in keeping me on. So, the mental wellbeing’s good and I’m pretty stoked.  

Quit attempts

I’ve had a bit of relapse just with being a bit pissed off, just bloody plodding along with no hope of getting back to my career. But, now I’ve got something to look forward to, I’m finding no problems not smoking – even when I’m drinking, so that’s good. I think the big thing’s the mental wellbeing, aye? Now that I’ve got a bit of a hope, light at the end of the tunnel, it’s not all doom and gloom. Once you get your career stripped off you – a couple of months is alright, but it’s almost been 18 months.

There’s a lot of social elements to that job that I don’t want to continue. With the new job, I’ll only be away 1 night a week. The problem with the previous job was you had 2 nights in places, and there was a real social scene with that. Getting stuck in and challenged at work – I don’t think I’ll need anything to fill the void. That was the problem with working on the farm. It’s not my cup of tea. It’s a bit repetitive and boring - watching the clock. So that’s when the smoking picked up, as well as the mental side of losing my job. The biggest risk to smoking is going back to that social scene at work. All the romance of being in my old role is gone. Everyone is now wearing masks, looking at each other and not wanting to go near each other. I think the culture’s changed. Socialising with colleagues on overnights, that’s probably being frowned upon now. It’s probably a good re-set for everyone. I don’t think working in that sector will be as fun as it was, for a wee while.

Locking-down’s another good one, you know, 'cause I don’t smoke in front of my family.  

Healthcare support to stop smoking.

I had a medical and I was conscious of having smoked a wee bit and drinking and probably not exercising and, ha ha, blood pressure. I’ve probably put on 5 kilos since I lost my job. It was a bit of a wake-up call, even though I passed. You still think, shit if I lose this medical, that’s my career, so that’s why smoking is so dumb. It just doesn’t make sense, especially when you’ve got kids – you start feeling pressured - you’ve gotta provide for the family ha ha. 

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