Meilani is a 25-year-old Māori Cook Island woman who lives in Auckland. She has a partner and is a stay-at-home mum looking after 2 children.

I first tried smoking when I was like, 13 or 14. Actually, I hated smoking at first – the taste, it’s quite drying. That was amongst my friends, but then I started smoking, like, daily, from 18. I smoked with friends mainly and I was working in a factory on a production line. My dad said I should stop and that I was wasting my money, and it’s bad. He didn’t smoke, but my mum did.

When I started about 8 years ago, I’d have 8 smokes a day, like at work, after work and in the mornings. Now I’d probably have at most 15 a day. I’ll get up, make a coffee and then go for a smoke. I’m not working now. I’ve got 2 kids and we live with my partner, my grandpa and my uncle. My partner smokes as well. My grandfather used to, but he stopped cold turkey about 10 years ago. 

Quit attempts?

When I got pregnant I hated the taste of my cigarettes, so I switched to menthol. I stopped smoking for about 4 months. It was difficult while we were in the car and my partner was smoking, but just in the car.

I started again, I guess I just really wanted a smoke. But I only smoked like 3 or 5 max.

With my second one I just smoked as normal.

It’s kind of stress relieving. That’s the only reason I smoke now. And, when I drink, I tend to smoke more. Like, during lockdown, I found I smoked less, probably around 10 a day. I just didn’t feel like smoking, ’cause everyone was at home and I didn’t have to rush around everywhere. 

Healthcare support to stop smoking

Doctors, midwives – they all offer but I say, “no thanks.” I just say, “I don’t want to quit and they kind of give up. They always say that the option’s there.

 Tried vaping?

I have tried vaping. My dad offered it and he said it was cheaper. I thought that it was really drying and strong actually. It was quite strong. Then I heard that they can blow up in your face, and you can feel it when you go to smoke it – it gets hot.

Bans on where people can smoke

We don’t smoke in the house. When I grew up, my grandparents would smoke in the house. It was quite normal then.

I find it’s quite bad if I’m driving but, I don’t smoke in the car when the kids are with me. I didn’t know there is a rule against that. Finally! I think that’s great. My aunty smokes with her son in the car. She says, “Oh no he’s fine. I’ve been doing it for years now.” 

Taxing tobacco

The cost – oh, it’s crazy! I don’t understand why it’s so high. I’ve tried rollies, to save money, but I didn’t like the taste.  

Tried black market tobacco?

There was one dude at my partner’s course selling Asian smokes. They didn’t taste bad, and it was so much cheaper. It was like $20.

Smokefree 2025

I don’t think people are going to stop smoking because the Government is putting prices up. I mean, I’ve seen people that smoke, and every New Year they say, oh yeah I’m going to stop smoking. Then, like, a week or two in they go and buy smokes and just complain about how expensive it is.  

Legalising cannabis

I know quite a few friends and family who smoke it but I actually am against legalising it. It slows you down. I nearly got run over crossing the road – twice. It’s probably different for everybody, but I think that we shouldn’t be picking up our kids and finding they’re high or whatever. I did want it just for medical reasons for people that need it.