Tokoroa smokers now have access to ongoing quit support from pharmacy

Smokers in Tokoroa are the first in the
country to have access to ongoing face-toface
stop smoking support directly from their local pharmacy.
Kunal Laxman from Tokoroa Pharmacy
Services Ltd is the first pharmacist to become
a qualified quit coach for the Waikato
region’s free stop smoking programme, ‘Once and For All’.
As a quit coach, Mr Laxman can sign
smokers up to Once and For All and provide
four weeks of face-to-face stop smoking
support directly from the pharmacy floor at
Unichem Tokoroa pharmacy and Unichem
Health Centre pharmacy at Tokoroa Hospital.
“At the pharmacies we see around six or
seven smokers come in looking for nicotine
replacement therapy (NRT) each month. It’s
great to now be able to offer them regular
support via a comprehensive programme
rather than one-off help.”
Traditionally, pharmacists across New
Zealand have offered smokers NRT packs,
but haven’t been involved in supporting them
further on their stop smoking journey.
Once and For All project lead Selena Batt
says Midland Community Pharmacy Group
CEO Cath Knapton was instrumental in
making the connection that pharmacists are
extremely well positioned to become quit
coaches who offer regular support.
“In discussion with Cath it became clear that
many pharmacies are already dispensing
NRT packs. It makes perfect sense for staff to
undergo training to offer regular support in a
more comprehensive way than they ever
have before,” says Ms Batt.
In September the Once and For All team
began working closely with the pharmacy
Group to introduce pharmacists to the
programme and offer quit coach training to
those who need it. Ms Batt says interest has been rife.
“Kunal was the first pharmacist to complete
his training and will begin offering the
programme this month. More than half a
dozen other pharmacies across the region
have also expressed an interest in joining the
programme, which is very exciting,” says Ms Batt.
Ms Batt says whether smokers sign up to
Once and For All via their local pharmacy, or
via certain GPs, community health providers,
online at or by
phoning 0800 6623 4522, the programme remains the same.
“Smokers who join the programme get
intensive behavioural support with a
dedicated quit coach. Each person sets a
target quit date and gets face-to-face support
over a four week period.
“During each meeting with the quit coach,
smokers blow into a smokelyser machine to
confirm they have been smokefree. When
they are still smokefree four weeks after the
target quit date, they receive a $50 voucher,
or up to $300 in vouchers if they are pregnant.
“The difference with signing up at a
pharmacy is that support takes place on-site
rather than at the smoker’s home, workplace or in-clinic.”
Ms Batt says the main benefit of having
phar macists as quit coaches is the
convenience it lends locals, especially in small towns.
“People can simply walk-in and sign up on
the spot. Weekend trading hours are
especially beneficial for those who work during the week.
“Prior to now, our quit coaches needed to
travel from Hamilton to visit programme
participants in some small towns. It’s always
more convenient for locals if there is a
nearby quit coach.”
The Once and For All programme,
facilitated by Pinnacle Midlands Health
Network, kicked off in October 2016 and is
one of 14 providers lending their efforts
towards the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 vision.