Te Awhina prepares to go smokefree

27 September 2013
Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) acute inpatient mental health unit Te Awhina becomes smokefree on Tuesday, 1 October 2013 bringing it in-line with the rest of the WDHB campus.
Smoking rates among people with mental health and addiction issues are significantly higher than those who do not have problems with their mental health, says Te Awhina clinical nurse manager Katheryn Butters.
“Sadly, there is a disproportionate incidence of tobacco-related illness and early death of people who have a mental illness. One study estimates a third of all cigarettes purchased in New Zealand are consumed by people with mental health issues.”
 “There is no getting away from the fact that tobacco smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable illness and death in New Zealand, contributing to around 5000 deaths each year, and one in four cancer deaths.”
To support the implementation of its smokefree policy, Te Awhina service users who smoke will be given advice and help to quit smoking including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. 
“If you come into Te Awhina you will not be able to smoke and we will support you to do this,” Mrs Butters says. “We hope during that time you will be able to quit for good.”
The WDHB’s forensic mental health unit Stanford House became smokefree on 1 June 2013 when all tobacco smoking within the unit buildings and courtyards was banned. In addition to offering support and NRT to Stanford House patients, staff also created smokefree activities to keep them occupied and to support healthy lifestyles and wellbeing.
This included taking part in the inaugural Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority/Whanau Try-athlon involving a 5km walk, 300m swim and 2.5km waka paddle which a team of four patients and two staff members trained hard for.
To help all patients in their efforts to quit smoking, the WDHB asks the public to respect its policy of no smoking while in WDHB grounds, buildings and carparks – including in cars. Those wishing to smoke will need to leave the grounds to do so.