Innovation creates more health promoting environments in leisure centres in South Auckland

Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura together with Counties Manukau Health’s Living Smokefree Service is driving innovation to create more health promoting environments in places like leisure centres in South Auckland, where families spend their time. 

Increasing opportunities for people to quit smoking has become a little easier thanks to a new   smoking cessation approach. This is currently being prototyped by Counties Manukau Health and Auckland Council Pool and Leisure Centres, in collaboration with Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura.

The three organisations are working to establish a scalable approach to cessation that is reinforced by Auckland Council’s commitment to smoke-free environments in South Auckland.   

Last year, Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura partnered with Counties Manukau Health and ran the ‘Hang Tuff, Don’t Puff’ smoking cessation service within three Auckland Council leisure centre sites – Allan Brewster, Otara and Manurewa.  Training was provided by Counties Manukau Health’s Living Smokefree Service to key staff members within the three sites to equip them to deliver the Smokefree ABC and refer to stop smoking support.

Otara Pool and Leisure Centre staff member, Tepanga Varu was encouraged by colleagues to register in the programme to kick his smoking habit. He says, the smoking cessation resources in the programme made it a lot easier for him to quit smoking.

“I found what worked for me were the lozenges and I was given a spray. So, the spray helped me, it was a little bit stronger.”

Varu adds he is more active now he isn’t smoking and has changed his work and home routine for the better.

The learnings from ‘Hang Tuff, Don’t Puff’ are now being scaled into the Healthy Habits initiative to be spread across 16 Auckland Council Pool and Leisure Centre sites in July 2018.

“It’s an innovative approach to health and wellbeing, providing guidance and support around stress management, exercise and diet,” says Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura Lead, Gael Surgenor.

Research undertaken in 2016 by Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura looked into smoking prevention among wahine Maori and showed that smoke-free lifestyles could be sustained through consistent movement or physical activity.

“We are trying to implement that learning into an alternative environment such as a leisure centre. It will make access to the support services that are available for them easier and engage those wanting to quit smoking,” says Surgeoner.

Senior Activation Advisor for Auckland Council Pool and Leisure Centre, Peter Caccioppoli, says this initiative reflects a new route for the Council by providing an alternative space for participants to access comprehensive health resources and specialist support.

“Auckland Council leisure sites are already smoke-free spaces so, it is also about supporting our communities to apply this to their own lives and living spaces as ‘business as usual.”

Members that registered were referred onto Counties Manukau Health and received smoke-free resources and monitored specialist support.