Get support, says Oamaru ex-smoker

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North Otago is taking part in New Zealand’s inaugural Stoptober campaign to encourage people to stop smoking next month.

A number of resources will be available and events will be held around the country including some hosted by several pharmacies, in conjunction with the Southern District Health Board, in Otago and Southland to actively promote the campaign, which aims to help people stop smoking from October 1.

Stoptober’s ‘Giant Red Stop Ball’ will be rolling into Oamaru’s North End Pharmacy on Wednesday, September 24, at approximately 10am.

Oamaru resident Kay King, who had smoked for more than 50 years until she had a heart attack last month, said she would encourage anyone trying to give up smoking to talk to their GP about using non-smoking aids and go to the Oamaru Hospital’s smoking cessation programme.

But the most important thing is to find a buddy to support them and also to find a reason to stop smoking and focus on that reason.

“See if they can find a buddy who has been a smoker because a non-smoker doesn’t understand what it’s like.”

Ms King, who suffers from emphysema and asthma because of her smoking, had a heart attack after a game of pentaque on August 17.

She was rushed to hospital after her sister and friends coincidentally came to visit her at home the next afternoon and found Ms King in terrible pain.

“I wasn’t aware that I had a heart condition.

“I was quite surprised when I was told I’d had a heart attack.”

Ms King needed to have three stents put in and a blood clot removed following the incident.

“I required the procedure because of smoking.”

She will now be on medication for the rest of her life and will have difficulty travelling to see her children and grandchildren in Australia because she needs to use a wheelchair at the airport.

One moment that keeps playing around in her mind was when she was first told she was asthmatic and the doctor said if she wanted to be able to play with her grandchildren she would need to stop smoking.

“I was taking it all on board but I wasn’t doing anything about it.

“I wish I had. I could have prevented it.

“I’d now be able to run and play with my grand-kids.”

Each day since Ms King stopped smoking is now a struggle because as soon as someone mentions the words “cigarette” or “smoking” she feels like she needs one.

If she starts to feel this she will focus her attention on something else like Sudoku or gardening.

“I’ve got two little demons on each shoulder arguing.

“If people don’t mention the word then I’m fine.”

Ms King she would not smoke again because she did not want to insult the Oamaru Hospital, the Dunedin cardiac unit and all those who had supported her.

“I would let quite a few people down.”

Southern DHB Smokefree coordinator Debby Newton said Stoptober and the Otago-Southland events would be an excellent opportunity to help the 15 per cent of New Zealanders who smoke to stop.

“If you want to stop smoking come along and meet the pharmacy staff and the Smokefree team from the Southern District Health Board.

“We’ll be there to provide advice and there’ll be stop smoking give-aways available too.”

People wanting to quit smoking will be encouraged to sign up at www.stoptobernz.co.nz before October 1 where they will receive daily email and text support, as well as the option of support to quit, which will connect them to a cessation treatment provider of their choice in their locality.

There will also be a free Stoptober App, downloadable from the website, which has stress-related support in Te Reo Māori and English.

By RUBY HARFIELD

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD

KEEPING BUSY: Oamaru resident Kay King doing a Sudoku to help keep her mind off cigarettes after she stopped smoking last month following a heart attack.