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Rocking to healthy lifestyle

Rocking to healthy lifestyle
George Rapana (on right) from the Taranaki Stop Smoking Service with Kresha and Gary Jackson.

Last Updated: February 2019

The grandchildren told him his home stunk. His wife was unwell in hospital and this time coach George was there for support.

All these factors combined to ensure Gary and Kresha Jackson remained smokefree when they opted to quit more than four years ago, using the support of the Taranaki Stop Smoking Service run by Tui Ora.

Health was the motivating factor for the New Plymouth couple, both aged in their early sixties. 

“My wife had given up the month before so I thought this was a good time for me as well. She ended up in hospital with pneumonia and couldn’t smoke,” says Gary who had clocked up more than five decades as a smoker.

“Plus being around the grandchildren. It was a bonus for them. They used to say our house stunk. I couldn’t understand where they were coming from but now I can’t stand the smell of smoke.”

Ditching the cigarettes wasn’t hard because of the encouragement of Stop Smoking Practitioner (quit coach) George Rapana. “We had someone coming around once a week and if you had any issues you could talk it over. I had tried to give up numerous times before but this time George being there was an incentive to say smokefree.” George tested the couple’s nicotine levels, leading to friendly rivalry between the pair and helping them track their progress.

A few months after quitting, Gary suffered a heart attack and received a triple bypass.

“The surgeon was rapt that I had already given up. He said, ‘at least I’m not wasting my time.’ I can understand where he was coming from. He wants to get the best results for his patients and it was must be frustrating when people still don’t kick the habit.”

“My hat off to your service because without George being there we might have relapsed. The contact with someone saying, ‘you can do it’ and the reassurance that everything was going to work out - that made the difference."

Sadly, the couple lost a grandson last year but even during that stressful time they realised a change in mindset meant they were no longer tempted to start smoking. They’ve come too far to go back. “For both of us being smokefree is a blessing healthwise,” says Gary.

The couple loves dancing to rock n’ roll music – now they can feel confident that a twirl around the dance floor might leave them breathless, but for all the right reasons.

Read more about Gary and his creativity in a recent news story here.

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