Tasmanian pay-to-quit-smoking scheme to expand into George Town
Sarah Napier has tried to quit smoking multiple times, but she has found it very challenging.
She managed 12 years without a puff, but took it up again last year.
Ms Napier said she was more serious about quitting this time due to financial reasons.
“The cigarettes just keep going up and up and the pay isn’t, so our wages aren’t going up, they’re remaining the same.”
She discovered a new trial when she walked into her local pharmacy in Tasmania’s north today, giving her the extra push to try to quit again.
A second trial of the Tobacco Free Communities Program has been expanded to George Town in an attempt to make the community smoke free.
The program — which offers the participants a $50 voucher to be redeemed at local businesses if they return a low carbon monoxide reading during their weekly visit to the town’s pharmacy — has been expanded following a successful trial on Tasmania’s east coast.
In that trial, 12 out of the 35 participants quit smoking after the three-month period.
Mai Frandsen from The University of Tasmania says from the people that completed the three-month program, 34 per cent had quit smoking.
They are looking to expand the program to see these results in the rest of Tasmania.
“George Town was chosen because it’s actually one of the highest smoking rates in the state,” Dr Frandsen said.
She said this trial would be very similar to the previous one in Glamorgan Spring Bay.
“The incentives, program and schedule is the same, so we would reward people every week with $50 and then $50 a month in the second month and the third month for being verified as quit smoking,” Dr Frandsen said.
More people trying to quit
This year’s trial is aiming to recruit 40-50 people, with participants being rewarded $10 for enrolling in the program at either the Your Pharmacy or the George Town Neighbourhood House.
Wendy Jackson is a pharmacy assistant in George Town and she has observed an increase in the number of people coming into the pharmacy to try and get help to quit smoking.
“With this incentive, that’s going to be great because then that way they’ve got something to reward them for putting in a big effort,” she said.
“It’s a very hard thing to do (quit smoking) and we’ve had a lot of people coming in two or three times and they are trying very hard.”
A spokesperson from Quitline Tasmania has said the average packet of 25 cigarettes costs about $40.
Wendy Atkinson is a counsellor at the Quitline and said there had been an increase in people calling to quit smoking in the past number of years.
“People want to quit smoking because of financial reasons, it’s too expensive to smoke now and people find that they can’t afford groceries and other bills and looking after their family, so they need to quit,” she said.
Program tailored to Indigenous Tasmanians
This year’s program differs to the previous trial due to the partnership between the University of Tasmania and Flinders Island Aboriginal Association Inc.
The organisers of the program decided to combine their efforts to ensure the program could be tailored to suit the needs of the Aboriginal community.
Khristee Willis, a tobacco action worker for the Flinders Island Aboriginal Association, says smoking is a problem for the Indigenous community within the state.
“Tasmania is the second-highest rate in Australia, opposed to the first, which is the Northern Territory,” she said.
“Being Aboriginal and servicing Aboriginal people, we know the backgrounds in what they have been through, what they may not deem important or appropriate.”
Researchers are hoping to see the trial expanded statewide.
This comes after a bill introduced to the State Parliament by Independent Windermere member Ivan Dean, would see tobacco sales being banned to anyone under the age of 21.
The Upper House MP is pushing for the rise in the state’s smoking age to become law by the end of 2019.
You can call Quitline on 13 78 48.
This content was originally published here.