Roger is a 68-year-old Pākehā man who lives in the lower South Island. He is a published writer who has enjoyed some international acclaim for his work.

When I was 12, I started pinching my mum’s fags. I thought it was cool to be a smoker.

I wasn’t smoking a lot in those days but as soon as I could afford to buy my own, I smoked from then on really.

These days I smoke between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day, but a lot of them are rolled up from the butts of old cigarettes. I save all my butts and when I run out of cigarettes, I break the butts down and roll them up into new cigarettes. I do occasionally buy a packet of roll-your-own tobacco, but not very often. It’s just laziness – why I buy the ready-mades.

Quit attempts?

I have tried to quit. I’ve always been into giving up. I’m just about ready to start on the next one. I want to give up before my birthday in a month – to be a little bit healthier, to live longer and to feel better about myself, mentally. I’m sure if I was not a smoker then I’d feel much better about myself. Not that I feel bad about myself but you know, I’m sure it will be good for me. How easy it will be could be a different story, but I’ll have a crack at it for sure. I’ve got a whole box of lozenges from the pharmacy ready to go. That’s the plan.

The most important thing to me every day is to buy a newspaper and read it. When I’ve finished, I have a magazine I read or history and cultural books. At some stage I turn the TV on and just have a fag every now and then, you know.  When I read the paper I like to have a cigarette, and I like to do the puzzles. And when I do the Sudoku, I’ve got to have a cigarette in hand for that. It takes me probably a good 2 or 3 hours to get through the newspaper, so you know, 2 or 3 hours without a cigarette – I can’t imagine it.

Just a few years ago, I had 3 strokes, 3 heart attacks and then I got part of my lung chopped off. And then my ex-wife took herself overseas with my son and I was totally depressed. I stood out on the deck of my house and thought fuck this for a joke, I’m going to kill myself, and then, you know, I thought to myself that’s a stupid idea, be happy. And since I made that decision, I’ve been happy as a chook. I think one of the tasks in this world is to find happiness and I found it, so you know, I’m good. 

Healthcare support to stop smoking?

I’m pretty sure there’s been talk about me giving up smoking. It’s pretty hard to ask at the moment because my doctor has moved on. I’d been with the same doctor for a long, long time and she moved on to a higher role somewhere else which is a bit sad for me, not for her. Now I see a different doctor every time I go.

I’ve seen stop-smoking help advertised on TV and all that sort of stuff, but I think the lozenges and the patches are probably the best method for me. I'm not really a group kind of person. I’m 78% deaf and, to give you an example, I’m afraid some sexy lady is going to come and whisper sweet nothings in my deaf ear and I’m going to ignore her. I don’t go out anymore really, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m happy to live the life I do. 

Tried vaping?

I did have a crack at it a couple of years ago. I didn’t like it. When I see people vaping and I watch all the smoke coming out of their mouths I think good grief – it’s not good. That’s not putting me off starting vaping again. I think that I just didn’t enjoy vaping in the first place. 

Taxing tobacco

Put it this way, it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of beer than to buy a cigarette – that’s weird! When I was growing up it was the other way around. I wouldn’t call myself a drinker but every 3 or 4 weeks I buy a dozen little bottles of low alcohol beer which is only 2 percent alcohol. That will last me a month or more, so I enjoy that.

I’m sure that the high price is a good idea for some smokers and a bad idea for others. I wouldn’t like to make a judgement on that ’cause we’re all different, you know. I get by on a pension and basically, I just get by, so you know, certainly not smoking would help.

Tried homegrown?

Grow my own tobacco? I can’t even grow a lawn. I haven’t got a green bone in my body. I enjoy nature but I’m a poet, I’m not a gardener. I’ve never ever heard of anyone doing that. I’ve heard of people growing their own cannabis.

Legalising cannabis

I was a little bit disappointed that the referendum result was against legalising cannabis. I do think it should be legal. Part of the reason I think that is because I enjoy a toke myself. 90% is recreational. I do find that it helps lift my mood and calms me a little bit. But then again, I’m pretty calm most of the time anyway. It does make a small difference in my mood.

Bans on where people can smoke…

I don’t like smoking out in public at all. 50% of the reason is it just seems silly to be smoking and walking at the same time. And then, what am I going to do with the butt? I don’t like being a litterbug. I hate littering. I think litterbugs are just about as bad as rapists and murderers, in my eyes.