(July 2012) by Dr Warwick Palmer

Tobacco smoking is a major public health problem in New Zealand. Overall, around 23% of New Zealanders smoke tobacco. Prevalence is higher among Maori (46%) and Pacific people (36%).

Stopping smoking confers immediate health benefits on those who already have smoking-related disease and future health benefits for all smokers.

All medical centres have a commitment to enhancing and supporting the health and well being of patients, staff and visitors to the community. The aim of a smoke free environmental policy is to help prevent exposure to the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke.

With an ever increasing drive for a smoke free environment, the “smoke free environment policy” deserves revisiting.

It is part of our purpose as health care providers at every level to help and support those who smoke by requesting:

  • That all patients have their smoking status recorded on their medical records, so health care professionals are aware of their patient’s health risks.
  • Doctors and nurses offer advice and support to those who smoke at every visit.
  • Our staff are trained to provide help and support to those who wish to stop smoking.
  • Referral to nurse practitioner clinics or smoking cessation counselors is available on request.
  • All practices are able to offer Nicotine Replacement Therapy for those unable to manage without nicotine whilst in a smoke free environment.
  • Leaflets and brochures are available on request for those who wish to stop smoking.
  • That all people who smoke are treated with consideration and respect and will not be pressured into stopping smoking if they are not ready to do so.