23 Feb, 2024

Smoking and Heart Health

Two young Pacific men arm wrestling at picnic table

Most of us know smoking is bad for our whole body, but its impact on our heart is especially important to understand. This Heart Health Awareness Month we are highlighting how smoking affects our heart, particularly for Pacific people and how we can help at The Fono.

Smoking is incredibly damaging to the heart in many ways:

  • Damages the lining of our arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart. This increases the chances of having a heart attack, stroke and angina.
  • Thickens the blood making it more likely to clot, which also increases the risk of a heart attack.
  • Decreases the level of oxygen in the blood, forcing the heart to pump harder to circulate oxygen.
  • Cigarettes contain nicotine that raises blood pressure.

These facts highlight just a few of the ways in which smoking is bad for our heart health. To find out more, we encourage you to head over the Heart Foundation NZ website.

Alongside the medical facts, here’s a look at the numbers…

  • Nearly 1 in 7 deaths among Pacific people are connected to smoking.
  • Smoking causes 40% of heart disease in people aged under 65.
  • Smokers are 3 times more likely at the risk of having a sudden cardiac death than non-smokers.
  • The life expectancy of smokers is roughly ten years less than those who don’t smoke.

This risk is even higher for Pacific people as we have some of the highest rates of smoking in New Zealand. Pacific people are 1.3 times more likely to be smokers than non-Pacific. For more information on the statistics, read here Whether you're a social smoker or a heavy smoker of many years, quitting smoking reduces your risk of heart conditions. Despite knowing the risks many people in our community struggle to quit. The incredibly addictive nature of smoking can make it feel impossible to give up.

At The Fono we are here to kickstart your smokefree journey.

Whether it's a conversation with a friend or a nudge from your whānau, the decision to quit is the best thing you can do for your health.

You can join the programme one-on-one with a personal Quit Coach, or you can join a group.

The programme is flexible yet encouraging and our team of Quit Coaches are here for you through the withdrawals and emotional challenges of giving up smoking.

Who can access the service:

Our free quit smoking support services are available to all people in the community aged 12 years old and over. You must be living in one of these areas:

  • Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) region
  • Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB) region

If you do not live in one of these areas, we can help by referring you to other agencies that can assist you.