Rangi is 24-year-old Māori man living in Auckland with his mum. He has a 2-year-old son and is a solo dad. Rangi has whānau in both Northland and Auckland and often goes between both.


I’m a solo father. My son just turned 2. It’s not the ideal situation, but hey, I love my son.

I began smoking when I was 14. I think it was more like peer pressure back then, instead of smoking ’cause I wanted to.  It was more ’cause of the groups I hung out with and if you didn’t smoke, you weren’t cool. Now it’s totally different. I’m raising a boy and it’s like aargh! I don’t want him to land in the same situation.

I smoke both tailormades and pouch tobacco. A 30 gram – that’ll last me a whole week. I’ve been thinking about getting a 50 gram – maybe it’d last longer – but I’m not sure I would like the other tobaccos. That’s what I contemplate all the time, but I just get what I normally smoke because it’s one of the cheapest ones. It’s quite a strong, harsh cigarette so I only need one every now and then. And, a lot of people don’t like smoking my packs, so okay – it lasts longer ha ha.

I can smoke up to 10 rollies a day. It all depends – up to 10, if I’m really stressed.  As soon as I wake up, I have a smoke, have a tea and then wake up my son. I’ve got my chair outside my house, and I just go out there, watch something on my phone, flick through social media, have a smoke and chill out.  But, like this morning, I haven’t had a cigarette yet. It’s been a few hours and I feel fine. It’s not like I’m moody or anything like that. 


I moved down to Auckland after the first lockdown, once everything settled down, and then in the second lockdown I got stuck here. I didn’t mind because up north everyone was just going crazy. There was more food down here and everyone was just more chilled. Up north, we had to drive a long way to town to get stuff, and line up for a few hours and I had my son and it was like aargh! In Auckland, it’s just once a week.

I did smoke more ’cause I was more annoyed at everything. Like our internet was playing up, but they couldn’t come out because of COVID.  Then when they did come, they couldn’t come inside unless we were all wearing masks and stuff. Then they weren’t refilling water tanks. The word in the neighbourhood was a lot of people up there got laid off, but they’re essential workers and I was like, oh, that doesn’t make sense. 

Quit attempts?

I’ve tried to quit. I’ve tried the patches, the lozenges, the gum and stuff, but it just wasn’t working for me. The patches – I got sent them from Smokefree or something – and they said just put them on. I just didn’t like the feel of them. It was almost like I felt like I was sick.

I quit just before my son was born. As soon as I decided myself that I was gonna quit, well, I just didn’t smoke anymore.  It was hard, but I did it.  It wasn’t like cutting back, smoking 2 a day – I just stopped cold turkey. The only way I’m gonna stop smoking is if I just stop having a cigarette. 

I stopped maybe 4 months before he was born. In the 4 months leading up to that, I never smoked in the house, it was always outside. I tried to stay away from my partner while she was smoking – although, I was smoking when she was pregnant. I quit for a good half a year but I started smoking again when she left me. She left us. I was stressed out.

She had pushed me to stop smoking for our son. She had been nagging me for over a year and a half to quit smoking because she wanted to have kids. She thought that us not having kids was because I was smoking. I said, “It’s not got nothing to do with me smoking cigarettes.” 

Then when she found out she was pregnant, I had to hum and hah a bit, but I came to that decision myself that I was quitting. It was nothing to do with her. I didn’t want him to see me smoking. Because, when I was younger, I had a curious mind and I was, like, what’s that like? What’s mum doing? What’s she got in her hand? That’s what drove me to stop smoking. I can’t be pushed into it or anything. I felt like I wanted to stop smoking. I was doing it for my son and that was a good reason.

But when she left, I was like, nah, you’re not with me anymore so I’m gonna just do what I want. So, I started smoking. It was more about being rebellious towards her, rather than thinking of myself. It was like a way of me not caring what she said anymore, kind of thing. It was like me saying, who are you to say don’t smoke? You left me! You’re not running my house anymore.  

Now, a lot of people judge me for smoking because I’ve got my son. When he sees me roll cigarettes, I try to get him not to look at me because he gets curious about what I’m doing.  He’s at that age. Yeah, I didn’t want that but I’m more relaxed about it now. I just say, “Look, if he wants to smoke cigarettes when he’s older, that’s his choice.” But I’m gonna try and make sure he’s old enough to support his own habit. I’m hoping by the time he’s older that his dad doesn’t smoke anymore so he doesn’t pick up the habit from his dad.

Healthcare support to stop smoking

I always see posters at the doctors. The latest one shows how much food you could buy instead of buying a packet of tailormades. Then they’ll have the tobacco pouch and how much shopping you could get for the same price.

They lecture me and try to make me stop smoking quite a lot. I say, “I don’t wanna be rude, but, like, every time I come in here, you try and convince me to stop smoking. But, it’s my choice, not yours. I’m gonna smoke whether or not you like it. The more they try and push me, the more I don’t wanna do it. I just told them, “Whatever you’re gonna tell me is ‘gonna go in one ear and out the other until I decide I wanna stop smoking. You can’t convince me unless I want to.” That’s just how I am. If somebody tries to convince me that something’s wrong, in my mind I’ll think it’s right. Ha ha. I put the faith in myself, that’s all I mean.

I get breathing issues sometimes. It’s not asthma, but it requires me to have inhalers. When I get bronchitis, the doctor says it’s like twice as bad as an average person. I need a full course of steroids to get everything out of my system. So, I try and stay as healthy as I can, except for smoking. I’m so stubborn that I’m not gonna quit, because I don’t want to quit. It might cause me to be short of breath sometimes, but at the same time, I wanna smoke. I would totally stop, obviously, if it was threatening my life. But they can’t tell me now that I’m dying slowly. So I’m at that point where I’m just gonna do it because it just makes me relax.  

Tried vaping?

Maybe 6 months ago, my ex-partner – after my son’s mother – wanted to quit smoking. She wanted to try vaping and I wanted to try it. She got a level that I wasn’t used to and then I felt I was dying for a few hours because it was just so strong, and it hurt my chest.  I was like, “Nah, I don’t want these anymore, it almost killed me.” I was just being dramatic, yeah. She got me a vape and I was like, “Whoa, I don’t wanna smoke strawberry, what’s going on?”  She said that I could get plain flavours. I think I’ll look back into it once I know more about it.   

Tried homegrown?

I’ve looked into it on a website but I wasn’t sure if it was, like, legitimate or not. I’ve never grown it myself. I don’t think I’ve ever come across it and I’ve never tried it myself. 

Bans on where people can smoke…

I heard about the law that you can’t smoke with your children in the car. I’m fine with that because I don’t smoke with my son in the car. If I wanna smoke and my son’s in the car, I’ll either have to pull over or wait until we get to our destination.

A lot of people that smoke in the car – it’s fine, like, each to their own, but in my mind, you’re pushing. I don’t wanna push my son to smoke. So, I’ll stop him any way I can. I’m still gonna smoke and be a smoker, but if I smoke in the car it’ll give him more incentive to think, oh, like, dad smokes in the car so I can smoke too. By not smoking in the car, it’s kind of helping him that little bit more not to smoke.

And, the second-hand smoke is quite harmful to children as well. So that’s why I don’t smoke in the house. I didn’t smoke in the house even when my son was younger and asleep. 

Smokefree 2025

They’re trying to stop people from smoking by getting it as expensive as it can be. It’s stupid ’cause a lot of people that are already struggling now are still smoking. They’re still gonna buy cigarettes when the price goes up.  They’re not gonna quit and then their kids are gonna suffer from it. They’re not gonna buy food. They’re just gonna constantly ask for food grants. I’ve seen it. A few of my family members still do that. I’m shocked because I have a son and I know one day I’ll probably have to quit smoking, but right now I’m alright, ’cause I’m staying with my mum and I’m paying board. I’m in a good spot where I can still smoke and I’m comfortable. 

I’m not saying that they should stop the increases, but also I feel like they should understand where it’s gonna go. They need to understand that that’s not gonna help people. They’re still gonna buy cigarettes – just at the more expensive prices. Obviously, they don’t care. They just want to be the first country that’s Smokefree. 

Legalising cannabis

Recreational use is alright I guess. I’ve done it before. But I’m not really sure ’cause it would just mainstream everything. There’s still quite a lot of things that I need to think about. If it’s legal, what’s gonna happen? Will we have to go to a doctor with specific problems to get it?  Are there gonna be specific places where you can smoke it?  That’s pretty much singling out people that smoke. Then are people gonna be discriminated against if they smoke it? Will they lose their jobs? There’ll still be judgement upon it, even if it’s legal. A lot of people still don’t like it. It doesn’t really bother me if it gets approved or not. I think for medical use maybe. For people that need it for pain management, that could be useful, but I’m unsure about recreational use because I feel like it’ll become a problem in some way. 



2 months later…

I’ve quit smoking, I’m starting to vape. It’s been about a month or so now. I’ve been training the last 6 months. It’s just something that I wanted to do to help enhance myself, to make me feel better after training. It’s helping quite a bit, actually. 

It’s been a full month and I know my body feels a bit different. I was a bit tired at first. For a couple of weeks. I was sleeping in a lot. I feel like it was because I smoked so much my body was just getting rid of everything.

My first vape of the day would be 15-20 mins after getting up – not straight away anymore. 

Switched to vaping

It’s an Alt vape, it’s like an alternative way of having nicotine instead of having all the harsh cigarette smoke. It’s just a vape that you can get from the gas station. It’s really cheap, actually. Like, usually, I’d spend $150 on cigarettes a week and I was getting worse and it was getting really expensive. I could afford it. It was just I didn’t feel good after going to the gym. I just felt like crap.  Straight after the gym, I would have a smoke. And I was like, that defeats the purpose of going. It wasn’t working so I just switched. Now I’m only spending $50 -$60 on the pods. The pack of pods are $20 for 2, and 1 pod lasts for a day and a half – 2 days.

I’m on 4% at the moment. I think I should’ve got 6%, but I’m not wanting to have that much nicotine in my system constantly.

I feel like I vape less than I smoked 'cause sometimes I would chain-smoke. I’d be outside for a good 45 minutes, just smoking. The longest I’ll sit and have a vape is about 15 minutes, then I come back inside and I’m done.

I feel like with different flavours it satisfies, like, the cravings I got when smoking.  The standard tobacco gold flavour is the best one to help with my cravings. There’s other flavours that you inhale and it’ll suppress it even more. But I don’t like flavours like watermelon, but it lasts longer than the tobacco gold. When I have the tobacco flavour, it’s like I’m smoking. But when I have the watermelon flavour it’s like I’m just inhaling watermelon. And I don’t think my lungs like it.

The first day I started vaping I still had a couple of cigarettes left, so I was like, oh, I’ll have one and then I’ll just wean myself off it.  The first one I had, I almost vomited.  It was just like my body didn’t want to smoke anymore.

You can’t buy 6% or 6mg from anywhere, only online. I’m all right with the 4% at the moment, and then, eventually, I’ll drop to 2, and then soon I’ll be on nothing. I’m kind of, like, happy with what I’m doing at the moment with the vaping. 

Vape to QuitStrong Campaign

I don’t really observe the quit smoking stuff. Because I’ve smoked for so long, I’m like, oh, another poster.

Bans on where people can smoke and vape

I never smoked in the car with my son at all.  I just didn’t see the point of it.  If you wanna smoke, pull over and have a smoke or wait ‘til you get to the place.

I’m usually home all the time, so I just smoked at home. If I was out and smoking, it was usually where no one was around and I was away from everybody.

4 months later...

I'm good. The boy’s good. He’s growing real fast. At 2½ he’s up to my hip already. He’s gonna be a big boy.

I just moved into my own place. It’s kind of stopped me from all the physical activities, so I’m lounging round. I’m just happy that I’m in my own place with just my son and me.


I'm still vaping a lot. I don’t think I've decreased my vaping. I’m still on the 4 mg.

I haven’t had any cigarettes. I'm secretly happy about that. I’ve been tempted a couple of times when I was drinking with my friends. I resisted and every time I've gone out it’s gotten easier. I feel like the more I'm with my mates and they're smoking, it’s easier to sit there instead of walking away and smelling it from afar. I can have a full-on conversation with them and be fine. But as soon as I can I smell it from the doorway, from my house maybe 5-10 metres away, it’s kinda like, mmm that’s a nice smell. But if I'm sitting in it, it’s too overwhelming for my feelings – then I don’t like it. It makes me feel happy that I'm not smoking anymore.

My friend’s just started vaping and he’s quit smoking. I told him, “It’s like when you drive past a fast-food restaurant, you can smell the food and you wanna go in and eat it. But as soon as you’ve eaten it, you don’t feel good. I think that’s what will happen if I smoke again. It’s all right for you if you have a puff every now and then, but because vaping’s cleaner than smoking, you're gonna feel the difference. It’s still like introducing smoke or something into your lungs but it’s kind of a lot cleaner than smoking in general.”

He told me that he’s coughing up phlegm and he thought it was due to him vaping. I was like, “Nah, that’s you getting rid of all of your toxins from smoking 'cause you're introducing something different.” I said, “After a while if you do cough up phlegm, it’s gonna be clear.” I cough up clear phlegm sometimes. I went to the doctors ’cause I was a bit worried, and they just said it’s kind of like it’s mucus, but it’s not anything bad. 

I was trying to get back to the gym while I was still smoking, because I would have gained weight. I’ll go back to the gym once I get my son in day-care. I don’t have anybody to watch him.

I’m gonna stick to the 4 mg and see how it’s affecting my body once I go back to the gym. If it’s too much, like I’m still out of breath, I’m either gonna have to eventually quit vaping, or I’ll go down to 2%.

I go through 4 pods a week, sometimes 6, it depends on the flavour. I’m experimenting with different flavours. The tobacco flavour makes me wanna vape more. When I feel like I’m gonna vape all of it, I switch to strawberry ice. I’ll just waste money if I keep buying tobacco gold. I use tobacco gold at night and the sweeter flavours in the morning.

I don’t really like waking up in the morning. I’m always in a grumpy mood in the morning and then I’ll have my coffee and then I’ll be fine. It was worse when I was smoking.

Intent to stop vaping

Quitting vaping is the plan anyways, because I don’t want my kid to realise what I’m doing and influence him to think that’s all right to do.

My Mum and her partner used to smoke in the car when I was like maybe 6-years-old onwards. She said that one of us will smoke because, like, 1 out of 3 kids that are exposed to second-hand smoke end up smoking, and then out of me and my brothers, I was the only one who smoked. It was funny because both my brothers were against it, and I just thought, oh well if I smoke, I smoke ha ha. Like I was just that person. It didn’t really bother me if I smoked or not, ’cause I thought once I’m old enough I can decide whatever I want.

My Mum was all right with me smoking. She called me the problem child. It wasn’t ’cause I did what I wanted. I was curious. I thought I’ll just try it. I was more that kid. I wasn’t scared to do it. I did it because I felt like doing it. I was the first to smoke out of my mates, so I was the bad influence on them. Then my older brother who used to think it was the most disgusting thing on earth, started smoking and she had quite a big problem with it.

My mum’s so worried about my son, eh. She thinks he’s gonna be exactly like me and I said to her, “Nah, he’s gonna be worse because he’s not just my son, he’s his mother’s son too.” I know I’ve got a long road ahead of me with him, which is fine with me. I just need to be around.  That’s it – he’s my main focus. I thought, smoking’s gonna stop me from doing that. That’s why I stopped before he was born. I say it was easy, but it was hard during the time that I was trying to give up. You just gotta put your mind to it. I could have done it earlier, but I don’t think I was in the right mind to do it. 

Health professional support to stop smoking

My doctor still lectures me and says that vaping is still bad for you. I’m like, “At least I’m not smoking, man, just give me another 6 months.” When I came in just after I stopped smoking and started vaping, he said my lungs were quite flared up. Now he’s saying that they’re way better, but they could still be a lot better. I said to him, “I’m asthmatic, man, I’m allergic to pollen, I’m allergic to grass. I can’t even go outside a lot. Like come on, man, it’s not just vaping that’s causing this, it’s the changing of seasons.” And he said, “Your allergies can’t cause it.” And I’m like, “It can. It’s given me asthma attacks when I was younger so, surely, it’s flaring up my lungs now.” When I was younger and wasn’t smoking, my lungs were bad, so I told him, “Come on, man, you need to look in my records. I’m sick all through the year.” He questioned that: “How can you be sick all through the year?” 

He is my new doctor, but he can’t tell me something about my body that I don’t know. I’ve been told all my life that I’m gonna have problems with my lungs. I’m probably gonna die from something to do with my lungs. That’s what doctors have told me. That’s why smoking and vaping doesn’t bother me, because I’m gonna die from a lung-related thing anyways. 

The last couple years I’ve had my son, I’ve had to look at myself and change something about my life, and it was smoking. Now I’m vaping. I’ll change that eventually. But he’s got to know that it’s my life. That’s what he and other doctors don’t get. I’m an adult, I can choose what I want. They’re not speaking to my baby, trying to convince him that smoking’s bad or vaping’s bad. I don’t have to agree with them, ha ha. A lot of health professionals nowadays miss the mark, especially diagnosing things that they didn’t look into my past about.

Now I’m a test dummy for new and improved inhalers. I’ve said to them, “The body adjusts to medicine. If you take Panadol every day your body is gonna adjust to it, you’re gonna have to get something stronger 'cause your body’s used to it.” 

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