News from home
Written by: Alice Te Puni - Hauiti Hauora
22 Jun 2016

Tiana-Sheree Apiata stubbed out her last cigarette when she was four months pregnant. Her doctor warned “baby will die” if she didn’t. It was a reality check; the 19-year-old needed to quit smoking and for good.

Tiana tried to kick the habit when she first heard her child’s heartbeat but only lasted a week. Two months later Tiana saw the disturbing scan which showed the placenta crushing her baby’s face.

“I was told my baby wasn’t growing and if I didn’t stop smoking the placenta would continue to spread and suffocate him. “It was do or die — my baby or smokes.” Tiana chose the wellbeing of Te Waihirere, her gorgeous 11-month-old baby boy.

Unfortunately, Tiana’s smoking during the early stages of her pregnancy has affected Te Waihirere’s respiratory development. Te Waihirere has been hospitalised twice for bronchitis and is now showing the early signs of asthma. “His chest and lungs are weak and smoking during pregnancy has a lot to do with that,” says Tiana. “It is not a good feeling as a mother who wants only what is best for their child. ‘‘It (smoking during pregnancy) is one of the worst decisions I have ever made.”

Tiana urges other women to quit smoking as soon as they discover they are pregnant. “The risks to baby just aren’t worth it. Throw the cigarettes away. Don’t even pick them up.”

Tiana started smoking cigarettes when she was about 14. Smoking was a normal part of her life. Everybody did it, her mum and dad and many whanau members. Tiana says there are some in her whanau who no longer smoke and she hopes they will be role models her son emulates as he grows up.

Support from Ngati Porou Hauora-Aukati Kaipaipa cessation smoking practitioner Perak Smith has helped Tiana to be smokefree for almost 18 months. “I have heaps more energy and I reckon I smell way better too,” says the first-time mum.

Tiana calls for pregnant mothers who smoke to stop and ask themselves, “would I give a baby or a toddler a cigarette?” “Pregnant mums who smoke are doing exactly that . . . but the baby is in your puku.”

Tiana is thrilled to be a “smokefree mama” and is lending her voice to champion the smokefree campaign. Linda Hovell, Tiana’s mother and the Ngati Porou Hauora Ngati and Healthy co-ordinator is “super proud” of her daughter’s smokefree stance. “It is not an easy journey but neither is it an impossible one,” she says. Ms Hovell has been smokefree for almost a decade and has a job that helps others to be the same.

Ngati Porou Hauora and Healthy Families East Cape joined forces to celebrate World Smokefree Day at the Kaiti Mall last week with a Ngati and Healthy event to raise awareness about the need for creating environments where children are free from exposure to smoking. Healthy Families East Cape manager Albie Stewart commends Tiana’s valiant smokefree efforts and hopes her brave story inspires others. He said Healthy Families was committed to working collaboratively with iwi, community leaders and local organisations to identify, design and implement strategies to influence smokefree environments and to help achieve a smokefree Aotearoa by 2025. “Healthy Families New Zealand encourages people to live healthy lives, make good food choices, increase physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption and be smokefree.”

Tukuna mai o whakaaro