Cigarettes price rise generates more clients

Helping to quit: South West Healthcare stop smoking workers Sarah Irving and Moya Mahony with some of the array of products available to people who want to stop smoking.

Helping to quit: South West Healthcare stop smoking workers Sarah Irving and Moya Mahony with some of the array of products available to people who want to stop smoking.

STOP smoking project worker Sarah Irving expects this month’s increase in the federal tax on cigarettes will create more clients for her.

But Ms Irving, the Smoke Free Project Worker at South West Healthcare (SWH), said the number of clients seeking help because of the rising cost of cigarettes was likely to be small compared to those seeking help for other reasons, such as health conditions. 

Her colleague, SWH smoking cessation facilitator Moya Mahony, said if the high price of cigarettes was the only reason for smokers trying to give up, they were unlikely to succeed.

People were more likely to succeed if they had a real desire to give up, Ms Mahony said.

The two said that while the high price of cigarettes was unlikely to deter regular smokers, it did deter people from taking up the habit.

Ms Irving said smokers were in the grip of an addiction and high prices were unlikely to discourage them.

“You need to offer them the right type of support,” she said.

Ms Irving offers smokers who are admitted to hospital, and who have expressed a desire to give up, nicotine replacement therapy and counselling free of charge.

She found many smokers who had not succeeded with earlier efforts to give up had used nicotine replacement measures such as lozenges or gum that had not given them sufficient nicotine.

“We get people to try (nicotine) patches. If that is not enough, we add an inhaler with the patches,” she said.

When people were released from hospital, they could get the nicotine patches on prescription and other oral nicotine supplements over the counter.

‘It’s still cheaper than smoking,” Ms irving said.

Ms Mahony sees people in the community for up to 12 months who want to stop smoking.  Sometimes she can see clients 10-15 times.

She said the service had about a 70 per cent success rate. The success rate had declined slightly because, as the incidence of smoking in the community declined, the service was dealing with more entrenched smokers.

Talking to people “at the right time, and having the right sort of conversation” was crucial to successful interventions, Ms Irving said.

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