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“It’s Not Too Late To Quit Smoking”

Media Statement
The Asthma Foundation

13 November 2012

World COPD Day – November 14

Together, The Asthma Foundation And Quitline Say “It’s Not Too Late To Quit Smoking”

With World COPD Day approaching on 14 November, the Asthma Foundation and Quitline urge smokers to quit smoking now – it’s not too late!

World COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Day is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), which raises awareness of COPD through events and activities. This year’s World COPD Day theme is ‘It’s not too late’.

COPD is a chronic lung disease that is usually caused by smoking. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and phlegm. People often ignore these symptoms until they are severe. Whether you have mild or severe disease, it’s not too late to stop smoking to improve your breathing.

“We estimate that 1 in 7 New Zealanders aged 45 and over has COPD – more than 200,000 people, or the population of greater Hamilton,” said Angela Francis, Asthma Foundation chief executive.

Quitline understands the effects COPD has on the health and well-being of many New Zealanders’ and that COPD is almost always related to smoking.

“Research tells us that 80 percent of current smokers would not smoke if they had their life over again. Quitline hears from people everyday who desperately want to quit smoking for their own health and the health of their Whanau.” Paula Snowden, Chief Executive says.

Every hour, day, week, month and year you go without smoking, your health improves. When you quit, your body starts to repair itself straightaway, in just eight hours your heart rate slows down to normal and your blood pressure goes down. In just three to five days your sense of smell and taste begins to improve.

Smokers who use Quitline’s services are five times more likely to quit smoking than if they go it alone. “Quitting smoking is not easy as smoking is a powerful addiction, but every day people show it can be done,” says Paula.

“Don’t give up, quit! You can do it with the right support. The good news is that there’s more support available than ever before,” says Angela.

Quitline has a range of services and support, which includes phone, email, blogs, text – so that smokers know where they can go to get help to quit and stay smokefree, call Quitline on 0800 778 778, or go online ”. There has never been a better time to quit for your health, your whanau and you’ll save thousands of dollars every year.

The Foundation urges people with breathing symptoms or coughing to visit their doctor to get tested for COPD because early detection and management can slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life. You can also contact your local asthma society or trust.

COPD facts and figures:
• COPD has a substantial impact on the health of New Zealanders. Although often undiagnosed, it affects an estimated 15 percent of the adult population over the age of 45 years (at least 200,000 New Zealanders).
• More than 85 percent of the burden of COPD arises from tobacco smoking, with contributions from cannabis use and dust exposure in the workplace.
• COPD is the fourth leading cause of death after cancer, heart disease and stroke.
• COPD is an irreversible disease but is almost entirely preventable by avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke. Over 15 percent of all smokers are likely to become affected.
• COPD Is estimated to cost up to $192 million in direct health care costs each year.
• In 2006 COPD was responsible for an estimated 9,250 hospital discharges and 88,800 bed-days (1.5 percent of all bed-days).
• COPD accounts for about 200,000 GP visits and more than 453,300 prescribed medications.

The Burden of COPD in New Zealand summary report:
About the Asthma Foundation

The Asthma Foundation is New Zealand’s sector authority on asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

We advocate to government and raise awareness of respiratory illnesses, fund research for better treatments and educate on best practice. We provide resources on our website and support our affiliated asthma societies and trusts in providing education, support and advice.

For more information, visit the Asthma Foundation’s website at or go to
About Quitline

The Quit Group (which operates as Quitline) is an incorporated charitable trust which was established in 1999. We are committed to helping all New Zealanders quit smoking, with a particular focus on Māori, Pacific peoples and pregnant women. Our free services are funded by the Ministry of Health.


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