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World Smokefree Day - How to make your specialist rapt!

29 May 2014

World Smokefree Day - How to make your specialist rapt!

World Smokefree Day is Saturday 31 May with the theme 'Quit now. It's about whanau.'

Wi Peachey has done something extraordinary – after 40 years he has given up smoking. Wi started smoking when he was 14, smoking over 20 a day. Wi also has COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

COPD is a chronic lung disease. Eighty percent of people with COPD – currently over 200,000 people over 45 in New Zealand - were smokers. It often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. 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.

“I ended up in hospital as I couldn’t breathe; I nearly died so that scared me,” says Wi. “That was what made me finally give up smoking.” Even though some of Wi’s family are smokers, they are all rapt that he has quit, especially his children.

“It was hard for a start, but not having smokes around has made it easy, it doesn’t worry me now,” says Wi.

Dr Kyle Perrin, Wi’s respiratory specialist and Asthma Foundation medical director is also rapt. “Many patients think that because they have COPD there’s no point in giving up smoking. Stopping smoking is one of the few actions for COPD that will prolong your life – and when whanau is important as in Wi’s case, his decision to give up is a reason to celebrate this World Smokefree Day.

Now Wi has given up smoking he says his COPD is easier to manage and he is able to get around a lot better. Healthwise he finds it so much easier to breathe.

The Asthma Foundation encourages people to not start smoking - If you are a smoker, you have a twenty percent chance of getting COPD. You also don’t know how much smoking you’ll need – some people with COPD were heavy smokers and for others they may have only smoked lightly when they were young – it’s all down to genes. So why take the risk? If you want help quitting, call the Quitline on 0800 778 778, or visit

Also if you have difficulty breathing or coughing then visit your 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. Full details can be found on

Contact Cindy Borrie, communications consultant, 0274 433 905 for further information. Dr Kyle Perrin is available to interview.

Smoking Facts

• Smoking has many negative health effects including increased risk of developing diseases such as:
o stroke and heart disease
o cancers of the lung, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus and pancreas
o diseases of the urinary tract, pelvis, bladder and digestive tract blindness
• Smoking causes about 25% of all cancer deaths in New Zealand, and one out of every 10 deaths worldwide.
• Around 5,000 New Zealanders die each year from smoking-related illnesses (4,700 from smoking and around 350 from second-hand smoke.
• Second-hand smoke, where non-smokers breathe in the smoke of others around them, can cause heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, asthma and the worsening of asthma symptoms, eye and nasal irritation and nasal sinus cancer.
• Exposure of non-smoking women to second-hand smoke during pregnancy can reduce foetal growth, and is also associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
• Around 350 New Zealanders die each year because of exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke.

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) 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 2011 COPD was responsible for an estimated 12,000 hospital admissions and over 50,000 bed days.
• COPD accounts for about 200,000 GP visits and more than 453,300 prescribed medications.
• COPD afflicts over 50 million people worldwide and causes nearly 3 million deaths every year.
• Deaths from COPD are projected to increase by more than 30 percent in the next 10 years

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


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