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Stubbing Out the Habit

After smoking for 28 years, Florence Manavaikai never thought she’d quit. Her many attempts to stop never lasted long. But with the help of one-on-one sessions from The Fono’s Stop Smoking Service, Florence has been smokefree for months. For the sake of her children, she’s looking to get healthier and hopes to encourage others to drop the habit, too.

“It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen,” says the proud Samoan mother, whose family hails from the villages of Falelatai and Lefaga in Upolu.

As someone who started smoking when she was just 13 years old Florence, who has tried to stop before but never stuck to it, is now completely smokefree.

“I’m actually quite surprised,” she says, with the amazement clearly evident in her voice, “and so are my children.”

For the sake of her children, Florence never smoked in the house or car. But she never thought she’d stop all together.

It wasn’t until she met Lingi Pulesea from The Fono’s Stop Smoking Service that things changed.

“She was right,” Florence says about Lingi, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

“I thought, I can’t keep smoking and spending most of my money on my habit.”

Her family was struggling financially, and Florence realised she had to do something.

“I was spending about $53 a week on cigarettes,” says Florence.

"I was basically blowing money up in smoke.”

A standard 20-pack of cigarettes ranges from $25-$30.

Through Florence’s own will and determination, and with the help of the patches provided by The Fono and Lingi’s help and support, Florence persevered and has now truly dropped the habit.

She’s surprised at how effective the patches and the support have been.

She admits that in the very first week of the programme with Lingi, she rolled up some crumbs she had left over, went outside and sparked up.

“My first inhale I thought to myself, ‘yuck, this tastes yuck’,” she recalls.

It was no different on the second puff. She had a patch on and marvelled at how well it worked for her.

Although she knows it’s different for everyone, Florence says when she went to a family funeral, she turned down offers of cigarettes from cousins who smoke, and began offering The Fono’s stop smoking programme and patches to shocked cousins.

“They were all saying the same thing that I used to say - that I don’t think I’m able to give it up.”

She divulges that at the funeral she wasn’t wearing the patches. It was a proud moment for her to realise she could and was doing it.

But here she sits today, a non-smoker.

“This was just the right time,” she says, when asked why she was able to stop now.

The money she used on cigarettes now goes towards the family’s newly installed Wi-Fi.

“I got the Wi-Fi for my kids’ education,” says Florence.

“They’re growing up and I know they’re going to need the internet for research and their homework.”

She wants her children to make their education a top priority; it’s a goal The Fono’s Whanau Ora service is helping with, too.

“They helped us get a laptop, so while that was being sorted out, I got the Wi-Fi connected. It has been so helpful with their homework.”

Florence’s Whanau Ora Navigator Maria is helping her to gain her full license. She is also exercising more as a way to keep active and work towards healthier life choices that she wants to instil in her children. 

As she and her family work towards better education and health goals, she can’t help but be grateful for The Fono’s help. 

“If I didn’t receive this help and support I wouldn’t change, but change is good … it’s for the better.” 

Find out more 

The Fono Stop Smoking Service