Henry is a 72-year-old European man who lives in the South Island. He owns his own home and shares with a male flatmate, of the same age. He enjoys sharing the produce grown in his vegetable garden.


I started smoking at school when I was 17. After Christmas dinner, all the boys went down to the foreshore to have a smoke. I'm 72 now, nearly 73. That’s 55 years I’ve smoked.

I’m an ex-Army cook. In the old days we could smoke in the pubs. You seem to smoke more when you're drinking than you do, like, now. Yeah, ’cause they were cheaper smokes. 55 years ago, they were only two shillings and sixpence a packet of 25 or 30, and one and threepence for a packet of 10. Now, a packet of 20 is worth $30 – for a packet of 20!

If I’d known in those days what people say now about smoking, I would never have started. It was just one of those things – as a schoolboy in the 1960s, you just started smoking at that age. But, I don’t draw the smoke into my guts, it goes in my mouth and I blow it out again. That’s probably why I don’t cough.

Now, I go probably through 10 a day. I wake up about 5am and I’ll have a smoke 10 minutes after I get up, once I’ve had a cup of tea. I just smoke when I feel like a smoke. If I want a smoke, I’ll have a smoke. If I don’t wanna have a smoke for 2 or 3 hours, I won't have a smoke

Quit attempts?

I've tried eight times to give up over 30 years and I can't give up. I've tried a lot of tablets. Champix, I think they call them, and I've tried patches. They just don’t work. I tried Quitline and they sent me patches. I got 2 calls from them and when I told them that the patches weren’t working and that I was going back to smoking, I didn’t hear from them again. I didn’t try the gum, ’cause I've got false teeth. Gum sticks to my teeth.

About 8 months ago, I did it with another sort of tablet and it was a course for 12 weeks or something. I gave up smoking for 5 weeks. But then I went back to it ’cause I’ve got a flatmate who smokes and you could smell smoke in the house. He’ll never give up smoking. We smoke inside. It’s my place and I don’t expect him to go outside to have a smoke. Anyway, it’s very hard when you’ve got people smoking in the house, so I went back to smoking.

A lot of people I know are trying to give up and they’re having problems, you know, giving up. They go out to the nightclubs and people smoke. I don’t go to nightclubs.

I'm gonna have another go on the 1st of January. I might try hypnosis, that worked for my nephew.

Tried vaping?

Someone did try to get me to try vaping. It’s a waste of money. I’m not paying $50 for it. I’d rather spend my money on something else. The young people across the road vape. I’m not interested. I’ve smoked for so many years, I don’t want to try something new. 

Healthcare support to stop smoking

If I go to the doctor, the doctor’s always saying when are you going to give up? It’s the same with my sister and brother. My sister’s older. She’s an anti-smoker. She twisted her arm getting her kids to give up smoking. I told her, “I’ll give up when I want to, not when you want me to.” My brother–- he’s just had a bypass, heart attack operation and he’s nearly 70. He’s stopped smoking and he forced his wife into stopping too. He came ’round the other day and he said, “oh you’re still smoking. You want to give up.”  I said, “I’m 72, nearly 73, I don’t have to have you getting into my affairs. Mind your own business. If I want to give up smoking, I’ll give up smoking.” 

Smokefree 2025

The government say they're going to turn ’round and everyone’s gotta give up smoking by 2025. So, I’ve still got four years to go.

I think they’re gonna have a hard time over that honestly, because there’s a lot of Māori that smoke. I can't see it happening because a lot of people will still smoke. They’ll find something to smoke with. Like you can go outside and get one of those dock leaves, roll it up and smoke that. I’ve done that before.

They can't stop you from smoking inside, can they? That comes under a Privacy Act. They’ve stopped people smoking in parks, and in their cars –, well, we don’t smoke in the car, but sometimes we do, but not very much.

Legalisation of cannabis

I smoked cannabis in my 20s. I don’t see anything wrong with it being legalised. I voted yes in the referendum.



A couple of months later...


On Crate Day I had an accident, at home, and I did something to my knee. Got too drunk and fell over. I was in hospital for 4 and a half days – in ED, the emergency department. I’m off the crutches now, hopping around. Anyway, in ED I went 4 and a half days with no smokes. It was driving me up the wall. You can go outside. There’s a special area they have now that you can smoke in, but I didn’t want to get on my crutches or in a wheelchair and go out there. I could do without a smoke anyway.

The doctors didn’t say anything about the smoking or whatnot. It was more to do with the drinking I think. You know, I served my country and I think I’m entitled to have a drink and a smoke occasionally. I think the doctors, when they go home at night, they like to have a glass of wine. They might not smoke or anything like that, but I think they have a glass of wine.

When I got out of hospital, I had a smoke. It didn’t taste too good but it’s come right and I’m down to 5 smokes a day. A packet of 20 will last me 3 days and there’s 20 in a packet. Which is not bad, matter-of-fact – I used to smoke 20 a day.

The price went up at Christmas time. It went up 40 cents so that brought my packet of smokes up to $29.90, near enough to $30! You’ve got to spend your money on something. I have no family. I’m a single bloke. And, I haven’t had a drink since before Christmas. 

Still thinking about quitting?

If I gave up smoking what am I going to do? What am I going to do with my money? I’ve got everything I want. I’ve got TV, I’ve got a nice bed. I’ve got everything in the cupboards. I’ve got no kids and I’ve got no wife. So, what do you do with your money?

4 Months Later

I had a good birthday. I got a bottle of Bourbon from a friend, the boys down the back gave me a bottle of Bourbon and my sister gave me some new sheets. We sat out on the terrace and had a couple of drinks. My other sister sent me a dozen bottles of wine - she’s got a winery.  

I’m still smoking the same amount and on my birthday one of the boys down the back gave me a vaper. 

Doctor says don’t vape, keep smoking!

I had to go to my doctor for some more tablets and whatnot, and I told her about the vape. She said you shouldn’t use them because the liquid inside the vaping does something to your lungs. She said not to use the vaper, just carry-on smoking. Since you’re 73 you might as well carry on smoking and be done with it. So, I wasn’t too impressed with it. So, my brother had a look on Google and it said the same thing. 

Tried vaping?

I don’t like the taste of that vaping anyway ha ha. It tastes bloody awful. It’s got a funny taste to it, a different taste to smoking.

With smoking, I don’t draw back the smoke right down my throat. I have a smoke and just blow the smoke out again. I find a lot of cigarettes - there’s a lot of nicotine. But, the ones that I smoke, there’s no nicotine 'cause I’m not drawing it back that much.

I don’t want a vaper and that’s it. I just have a smoke and that’s it. I’d rather keep on smoking, but not as many.  Like, in a day, I might have 5 smokes. But I don’t drink through the week, I only drink on the weekends now. 

Quit attempts?

A lot of my older friends, my brother, and my younger sister, they smoked but they don’t smoke now. They gave up just like that. I haven’t got the gumption to do that ha ha.

A lot of the doctors that I’ve been to, smoked in their lifetime. The doctor I used to go to, he smoked a pipe. He said, “Just keep on smoking but don’t smoke as much, cut down.” Being a type 2 diabetic, I’ve done courses with the hospital – they’ve got research people there.  They tried to get me to give up smoking but that didn’t work. They gave me a prescription to get tablets or chewing gum. But the chewing gum is awful, and the tablets made me crook because I take diabetic and high blood pressure tablets as well. So, I cut the stop smoking tablet out completely.

Taxing tobacco

I smoke London - there’s 20 in a packet and its $29.90 a pack from the dairy. They just keep on putting the price up. I can remember when they were only 2 and 6 pence a packet for 25, and 1 and thrupence a packet for 20. It was about 1967 ha ha. 

I’m on the pension and I own my place, I’ve had this for a long time, and I’ve got a boarder - he’s 72. And I’ve got a trust account that pays for my power and insurance and rates on the house. So, there’s money in there to pay for all those things. So, I’m sort of quite wealthy - I can afford the smokes. They’re going to go up ‘til 2025 then the Government will probably take all the smokes off the shelf. But they’ll find ways of smoking, people will.  

Have you seen any stop smoking campaigns?

They used to have it on TV, but they don’t do it now. I don’t think they’re allowed to do that now. They’re on the packets of the smokes. They have lungs and all that on the cigarette packets. They look awful. They’ve all got different little things on them: ‘Smoking causes over 80 percent of lung cancer.’ ‘Tobacco warning. Tobacco smoke contains many poisonous chemicals that cause lung cancer.’ And on the back, it says, ‘For support, you can quit smoking’ and it gives a number for ‘Quitline’. On another packet it says, ‘Smoking harms your baby before it is born.’  And here’s another: ‘Your smoking harms others. Your smoking harms children.’ I don’t think it does any good. 

Have you tried homegrown tobacco?

No. The next-door neighbour grows it in the roof. He just keeps it for himself.  No one worries about it, and I don’t go there and ask him for anything.


When I was young, 21, 22, I used to smoke the cannabis. But I didn’t like it. You go funny with it and that’s it. The students still smoke it. They get it from somewhere. I’ve smoked it and a lot of the young jokers are smoking it. But a lot of them, they go for the vaping now.

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