Miri is a 36-year-old Māori woman who lives in the central North Island. She works as a beekeeper and has a partner and 2 children.


I had my first cigarette at school. I must’ve been about intermediate school age.  I was with my friend on the field, and I guess the more we tried it the more regular it became. I was smoking from that age until now.

My parents smoked. Inside the house and inside the car. I just got used to it. They both smoked up to their last day. All my siblings smoke.

I’d say I smoke 5 to 10 tailormades a day. I start in the morning, within 30 or 40 minutes of getting up – with my coffee. I smoke after eating, after dinner, and maybe if we’re travelling a long way, you know, when you’re driving you usually have a cigarette going.

I don’t smoke as much when I’m busy or at work. I think it’s ’cause you’re too busy and there’s no time to really sit down and enjoy one. At work, I just have one at lunchtime. I smoke more at home.

Quit attempts?

I did stop when I was 24-ish. That’s because I got pregnant with my first child and that made me stop. Because it was my first, you kind of feel cautious, ’cause I hadn’t experienced it. So, I thought, I’m going to stop smoking, and I did – cold turkey. It was easier than what I thought it would be at the time. I thought it might be quite hard, but I think I had the right support around me at the time.

I started up again when he was about maybe 2, and I’m still smoking now. There’d been some, like, family problems, losing siblings and parents. The cigarettes kind of helped in some way.

When I got pregnant with my second child I was offered the patches, but that kind of fizzled out. I had cut down anyway, way less than I had been smoking because I was sick throughout my pregnancy. I had patches and lozenges. I just don’t think I stuck it out because I was quite sick, so I didn’t smoke much anyway. 

Healthcare support to stop smoking

I have heard of Quitline, but I haven’t used them. Maybe way at the start my doctor asked about smoking, but I’ve had the same doctor for quite a long time. The midwives I had, asked if I was smoking and they offered, like, lozenges, or an advocate like a quit-smoking person they could do a referral to. That’s how I got my lozenges and stuff – through that referral. That was at the hospital when I got my scan. They offered services like Quitline. I did take up the referral to a big Māori health place. It kind of got left there. Nothing else has been brought up about it since.  Not that I go to the doctor much.

Tried vaping?

When I got pregnant with baby number 2, I tried vaping. I’ve still got it. I did like a mix of vaping and cigarettes for maybe 5 months.

I tried cherry, vanilla and a coffee flavour, and I played around with the strength. It was, like, quite weak and then it was too strong. It took a long time to get used to it. You know, you wouldn’t inhale it like a cigarette.

I just didn’t enjoy it as much, compared to a cigarette. It didn’t feel the same. I think because you had it in your hand it felt like you had something to keep you busy, but it didn’t have the same satisfaction as a cigarette.

I haven’t used it since then. 

Bans on where people can smoke… 

At home, I smoke in my garage which is outside. And I only smoke in the car that the kids don’t go in. I’ve got 2 vehicles – one’s the family car that’s no smoking, and the other is a smoking car. When I had my own kids, I reminded myself of what it was like for me when my parents smoked in the car.

I’m totally all for that ban on smoking in the car, because we grew up with parents that smoked in the car.  So, I’m totally supportive of that.

The attitudes towards people who smoke, can get you down. If it’s people that know I smoke, then I generally won’t care if I smoke really close to them. But if it’s someone that I don’t really know, I might be thoughtful and kind of go into a corner, or not smoke as close as I would with people I know. I have had that, like, just a change in their body language or they mutter something under their breath. I just guess that they don’t smoke because a normal smoker wouldn’t care. 

Taxing tobacco

The cost has changed over the years. It’s quite a big jump from when I first started. I don’t know, if it was to go up more, if I’d probably still smoke. The cost doesn’t really affect me at the moment.

If I go somewhere different and there’s a bit of a price difference, I’ll get a cheap packet just for that one time. I’m not far from a dairy, which is my usual place to get it from. But where my beehives are, which is not in town, my brand is $6 more. It’s ’cause they’re the only shop and there’s no competition. I only go there if I’ve got no cigarettes. People out there are gonna buy it though, because there are no other suppliers. 

Smokefree 2025

The goal to make New Zealand Smokefree in 2025 – that got taught to me at the Māori health place. I remember them speaking about it, ’cause I got a jersey with that printed on the back.

When I heard about it first, I thought that’s not gonna happen. We’re kind of close to 2025, and yeah, I don’t think it’s gonna be totally successful by 2025. All the people I know who smoked, are still smoking. 

 Legalising cannabis

I think cannabis should’ve been legalised a long time ago. I did vote yes to that referendum. 



2 months later…

I’ve just gotten better, I’ve been sick. I’m now having my first cigarette. When I’m sick, I don’t smoke, because I don’t enjoy it. It was a head cold, but still enough to put me off smoking during that time.

I think my smoking is still the same. I haven’t changed or cut down. On average, maybe I smoke 10 a day. I don’t count, but it’s not like a whole packet.

Beekeeping is quiet during the winter, so it’s, like. preparing for summer. I smoke more when I’m not at work or keeping myself busy. You don’t have a chance to grab your cigarette and light it, but now I’m at home I smoke way more because I’ve got the time too.

Access to cigarettes

Sometimes the shop doesn’t have the brand that I smoke, so I usually just go for something around the same price that they have available. I’m not complaining. I know they’re expensive, but it could be way worse and I can still financially afford it.

I come from a coastal area, and we’ve only got one shop. Because there’s no competition in sales, they’ve got a high price on all their items they sell, and cigarettes is one of them. They only have selected brands, so the prices are way different, and their selection is smaller. I usually get my supplies in town.

Tried vaping?

I was vaping for a bit when I was pregnant and my partner tried it then too, but we’re both back to smoking. It wasn’t for me – it worked at the time, but I gave up on that. 

Health professionals support to stop smoking

I think they’ve given up trying to encourage me to use patches or anything. 

Smokefree 2025

Low-nicotine cigarettes
Is that a definite or a maybe? Oh wow – are they going to make nicotine-free ones? So how would that work with pricing a packet, if the levels are going to be different? Would that be the same pricing? Like vaping has the different levels of the nicotine, so will cigarettes be coming out like that too? Oh, I hadn’t heard of that before.

Banning filters
Oh wow. Would that be because it will likely make people stop because of that?

Banning dairies and petrol stations from selling tobacco or cigarettes
Oh, that’s another good one.

Banning people that were born after 2004 from buying tobacco
Oh wow, ever? That could work, maybe. Wow, I haven’t heard of any of them. Oh wow, cool – well, not cool.



4 months later…

I’m still smoking and I’ve still been sick. I can’t shake off all the phlegm – like the phlegmy, juicy coughing. I’m not so much rundown – it’s the coughing and phlegm when you go out and you try not to cough. It doesn’t sound very nice. I feel well. It’s just I sound sick still.

My smoking still seems the same.

Sometimes, the brands can taste a bit different. If you go to a different shop, sometimes that same brand that you just bought at your shop can taste a bit off or different. Makes me think, is it the same one or is it those cheap cigarettes? The packaging looks the same, but the taste is a bit different, even though it’s the same brand that I’m used to.

Tried vaping?

No, I haven’t. I’m considering looking online for one maybe. Just ’cause I have tried it before, but I’m back to smoking now. I could consider that again. 

Work & family

There’s no beekeeping during winter. It’ll pick up during spring and summer.

My daughter has been diagnosed with a communication delay. She’s only 2 and a half and she’s still not talking at all. It was a long journey of testing all these things along the way – her hearing and her learning levels and all that stuff, and genetics. But that came out all fine. It’s just a temporary setback. It was six, maybe nine months.  I was smoking, smoking – didn’t know what was going on. Part of that was stress, perhaps.

So, I’ve been filling my time researching about that. Like sign language methods to learn to help her. That’s what I’m doing during quiet season. 

Health professional support

I just don’t go to the doctors unless I’m really sick or it’s the kids, I’m straight there for them. I’m the type of person that will only go if I’m really unwell because I don’t want to get charged like, $30, just for them to tell me that I’ve just got the common flu. Why did I just pay you $30 to tell me that? I hold back a bit until I know in myself that I need to get myself there. That’s just solely based on how much they charge.

6 months later...


That was quite stressful, but we’ve got a bit of freedom again, so that’s eased off.

I am still sick — I’ve gotten sick in the last couple of weeks again. Nothing too drastic. I don’t normally smoke when I’m sick, I don’t enjoy it. I’ve just decreased, only because I’m sick and then I got better and now I’m sick again.

I’m probably having about 5 cigarettes a day – which is usually half of what I could smoke on a good day. I still have 1 in the morning. I haven’t broken that habit of having it first thing in the morning. Then I have another 4 during the day, which is not much compared to how I’d normally smoke. It will probably pick up again during Christmas when we hang out with some family – safely though, in a safe distancing manner.

Tried vaping?

I was thinking of buying a vape online but that didn’t happen. 

Smokefree 2025

Cigarettes are sold in dairies, supermarkets, some liquor stores, petrol stations and discount tobacco stores 

That’s more than enough places providing tobacco supplies. I don’t know if we need that many options. In terms of helping people stop smoking, quit or cut down, maybe lessen the options where we can get them from. Some petrol stations are 24/7 and you can just pop down and get a packet. If you really want one, you can easily get it.

Limiting cigarettes sales to pharmacies

I’ve heard that. Would you need a prescription or can you go straight to the chemist? Do you need to go to your doctor? I don’t know. I might less likely want to use that option, going to a chemist. There might be robberies ‘cause don’t they get targeted anyway with their medications and stuff? I guess it’s a good thing and a bad thing if it is just available from pharmacies. I don’t think small towns will like that.

Shopping centres have a dairy selling cigarettes, a liquor store selling alcohol, a specialist vape store selling vaping products. If recreational cannabis for smoking was legalised, where should that be sold?

That’s a good question  I don’t know, maybe the chemist?  I have no idea, there would be an age restriction, but that’s a good question. Probably keep it all together since it’s like an R18 product.

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