Quit Smoking!

If there is one single, positive step that you can take towards a longer, healthier life, then it is probably to give up smoking. Research has shown that this is the most important thing that you, as a person with diabetes, can do to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and other complications.

Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of death today. Smokers, on average, shorten their life by one day every week. Smoking has a particularly adverse impact on Maori health with an estimated 31% of Maori deaths being attributable to tobacco use.

But the addictive nature of smoking makes it a habit that’s hard to hit on the head.

Hard, but not impossible

What’s covered on this page

The Importance of Smoking and Diabetes
Why you should stop smoking
Benefit straight away
So what’s stopping you?!
Sources of Support

Smoking and New Zealand Health Policy

The Importance of Smoking and Diabetes

The best-known effect of smoking is that it can cause various cancers. However, smoking also significantly increases many of the problems that people with diabetes already face, especially those complications relating to heart and large blood vessel disease (see section on Long Term Complications).


The incidence of smoking in Maori is known to be higher than in New Zealanders of European descent. It is quite possible that smoking is a major contributory factor for noted higher Maori rates* of heart disease, and other adverse outcomes of diabetes

*MOH annual reports provide data for year on year comparisons of Maori vs non-Maori health outcomes.


Why you should stop smoking

Here are just a few reasons why you might consider giving up smoking:

  • In addition to lung cancer, smoking can cause heart disease, strokes, circulatory disease, and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema;
  • Smoking also increases your chance of developing other cancers such as those of the mouth and throat, the bladder, kidney and pancreas;
  • Smoking increases your risk of gastric and duodenal ulcers;
  • Smoking affects fertility in both men and women;
  • Smoking can cause problems in pregnancy and harm an unborn baby;
  • 43 different cancer-causing substances have so far been identified in tobacco smoke;
  • 70% of the tar inhaled from smoking is deposited in the lungs;
  • Nicotine is not only addictive, it is powerful and fast-acting; within eight seconds of inhaling smoke your heart rate and blood pressure will rise and small blood vessels will constrict (start to close);
  • Carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of blood;
  • Also contained in cigarettes are numerous other harmful chemicals such as ammonia, formaldehyde, acetone and benzene;
  • And finally, smoking is an expensive habit – think of the money you could save!


Benefit straight away

It’s never too late to give up smoking. The body begins to repair the damage immediately and there is no doubt that you will feel the benefits. Breathing improves, phlegm and smoker’s cough are greatly reduced,  blood pressure and pulse return to normal, and the risk of smoking related diseases is reduced.

  • After 3 days, breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes relax, and your energy levels will start to rise.
  • In a matter of a few months lung function is increased by up to 10%.
  • After 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is halved, and the risk of heart attack falls to that of a non-smoker.


So What’s Stopping You?!

It’s not easy to give up smoking. The withdrawal effects (‘cold turkey’) can leave you feeling irritable, depressed, restless and unable to sleep.

Here are a few hints which might help you on your way to healthier, smoke-free life:

  • Choose a specific day to stop. It might be in a few days, or a weeks, time.
  • Take it one day at a time; if you feel like smoking then tell yourself that you won’t today, but you will take tomorrow as it comes.
  • Put aside the money that you would  normally spend on smoking. It will soon mount up and you can treat yourself to something you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Draw on support from family and friends.
  • Ask for help from your diabetes care team – be honest with them about your smoking habits, they will be pleased that you are taking positive steps to stop. They will also be able to give you advice which is specific to you, with respect to your diabetes.
  • Contact your GP surgery – they will have details of locally run support groups which offer help and support and will put you in touch with other people in the same situation as yourself. Groups are usually led by trained workers who will be helpful and sympathetic to your cause.
  • Try nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about these if you are unsure.
  • Some people find that ‘alternative medicine’ can be helpful – if it appeals to you then why not try acupuncture or hypnotherapy. Your local GP surgery should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • If you do find yourself smoking again then don’t despair and don’t stop trying. Not everyone gives up first time around.



Sources of Support


The Quit Group is a charitable trust set up to run quit smoking programmes in New Zealand, including the national free telephone support Quitline. The aim of the group is to reduce the number of New Zealanders who smoke, “with a particular focus on Maori smokers”. They develop and provide innovative quit smoking programmes, television, radio, and print quit campaigns as well as evidence-based tobacco control facts and figures. The programmes are funded by the Ministry of Health.

Goto http://www.quit.org.nz/page/aboutQuit/theQuitGroup.php for more information


Phone 0800 778 778 to speak to a Quitline Advisor. The Quitline offers free telephone support, resources and low cost nicotine patches or gum to New Zealand residents.

The national Quitline distributes subsidised nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) [See ref #3 for an evaluation of the program]. Approved primary care providers and selected hospitals also distribute subsidised NRT through the Quit Card programme.


This booklet has been designed to support and motivate people through the process of stopping smoking. It’s packed with information including strategies and tips for quitting, real-life stories and a Q&A section. The Quit Book was developed by Quitline and Learning Media Publishers and went through a thorough testing process with consumers and stakeholders. The book is available from the HealthEd website: https://www.healthed.govt.nz/resource/quit-book-beating-smoking-addiction


Go to www.quit.org.nz/blog


Hook up to Txt2Quit and you’ll receive quitting tips and support straight to your mobile. Register at www.quit.org.nz or call the Quitline 0800 778 778


  • A range of stop-smoking products are also available through the private sector, from pharmacies and health food stores.
  • Services are now available in some areas for pregnant women whoi may need extra support to quit or at the very least reduce their smoking.
  • Culturally appropriate Maori smoking cessation services have been developed, including the Aukati Kai Paipa programmes and Maori ‘quit advisors’ operate on Quitline.
  • ASH – Action on Smoking and Health http://www.ash.org.nz
  • There are a number of ‘stop smoking’ internet sites which offer help and advice on stopping smoking. The UK-based HEA site is a good place to start and can be  found at http://www.lifesaver.co.uk/


Helpful advice is given by Diabetes New Zealand.

I particularly like the run-down of what’s in cigarettes. (If I hadn’t successfully given up already, then this would really clinch it for me)

What else is inside cigarettes?

Some of the other chemicals and heavy metals inside cigarettes include:

  • Acetone (paint stripper)
  • Ammonia (toilet cleaner)
  • Methanol (rocket fuel)
  • Naphthalene (moth balls)
  • Carbon monoxide (car exhaust fumes)
  • Cyanide (rat killer)
  • Toluene (industrial solvent)
  • Arsenic (rat poison)
  • Butane (lighter fuel)
  • DDT (insecticide)
  • Cadmium (car battery metal)

Diabetes New Zealand: http://www.diabetes.org.nz/living_with_diabetes/type_1_diabetes/smoking



Smoking and New Zealand Health Policy

The Ministry of Health recognises the importance of smoking in relation to the health of the New Zealand population, and is making a number of steps to address various areas of tobacco use. Policy is guided by reviews of the evidence published in the scientific and medical literature (e.g. “Review of the Evidence for Major Population-Level Tobacco Control Interventions,” published in May 2007 (1)).

Clearing the Smoke: A five-year plan for tobacco control in New Zealand (2004 – 2009)

Objective 2 (of 5): To promote smoking cessation

The health sector has made major progress in delivering smoking cessation programmes, with an active national Quitline service, heavily subsidised nicotine replacement therapy, mass media campaigns, and culturally appropriate smoking cessation services for Maori.

The tobacco control plan encompasses the continuing support and further development of these programmes. It also supports increasing the price of tobacco as one of the most effective interventions to promote smoking cessation. District Health Boards are beginning to fund smoking cessation services and are encouraged to consider supporting this activity through Primary Health Organisations and for hospitalised patients (2)


Ministry of Health links:

Tobacco Control and Smoking

Smokefree Law in New Zealand


  1. Wilson N. 2007. Review of the Evidence for Major Population-Level Tobacco Control Intervention. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  2. Ministry of Health. 2004. Clearing the Smoke: A five-year plan for tobacco control in New Zealand (2004.2009). Wellington: Ministry of Health.

Published in September 2004 by the Ministry of Health PO Box 5013, Wellington, New Zealand ISBN 0-478-25729-5 (Book) ISBN 0-478-25732-5 (Internet); This document is available on the Ministry of Health website: http://www.moh.govt.nz and the National Drug Policy website: http://www.ndp.govt.nz

The Quit Group. 2005. Evaluation of the Quitline NRT Programme http://www.quit.org.nz/file/research/publicationsAndPresentations/Evaluation_Quitline_RR_screenres.pdf

 Explore the section Healthy Living:

Healthy Eating  |  Healthy Thinking  |  Physical Activity  |  Stopping Smoking  |  Setting Goals and Making the Changes