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Ninety percent success rate for smoking cessation services

Ninety percent success rate for smoking cessation services

In a small office at the Otago Asthma Society, two part-time staff, Jo Torrance and Lynda Paris, have a record they are proud of – 90 percent of all clients who come to see them to stop smoking don’t start again.

“The majority of our clients have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) so the motivation for them to stop smoking is relatively high. The alternative is a very poor quality of life. Giving up is still very difficult for many of them as they have been smoking a long time,” said Jo.

In New Zealand an estimated 1 in 7 people aged 45 and over has COPD (more than 200,000 people) with 85 percent of these smokers or ex-smokers. World COPD Day is on 14 November. The Asthma Foundation is encouraging all smokers or ex-smokers who have breathing difficulties to talk to their GP or contact their nearest asthma society for information and support. The message is ‘It’s not too late to stop smoking’ to make a change for better health.

Many of the clients who come to the Otago Asthma Society self refer as they want to make the change for better health. They often don’t have the skills in accessing smoking cessation services or know about getting the right help. “Many doctors aren’t free and there can be a part cost in accessing the smoking cessation nurse. We see them free of charge, they just need to have a respiratory condition and to want to stop,” said Jo.

The team puts their success down to the very intensive, one-on-one support that is provided. “We see clients very regularly the first little while – this can be every couple of days to start with – to keep their motivation high while they are going through this period,” said Jo.

Jo and Lynda also continually follow-up clients. “We’re still supporting some clients 18 months on. It’s important to keep in touch as old habits die very slowly. Addictive personalities need to be reinforced they are doing well, which can be just be a phone call,” they said.

For us it is all about quality. They have no contract to provide this service in the community, it is self funded by the Otago Asthma Society. The benefit of this is they don’t have to justify seeing clients in a commercial sense. Their focus is on the personal relationship that is built with clients, which takes time.

The service initially started with a grant from the Asthma Foundation for a pilot programme. The Society now sees it as a valuable asset in the services they provide and fund, especially alongside their COPD work.

“As far as we are concerned we can throw all other services out the window while people are still smoking – so this is an important focus for us,” said Jo.

“There is a huge amount of reward that comes out of this. We see the benefits our clients who stop smoking gain including better health and a better quality of life. That’s why we do this – it’s not just a numbers game,” said Jo.


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