Ngarrindjeri great-grandmother Maxine Risk –Sumner gave up smoking on January the 13th 2016. This has been a challenging yet rewarding accomplishment for Maxine as smoking was her passion, she felt good when she smoked. It seemingly solved her problems and she was totally reliant upon the puyu (cigarettes). Over the years Maxine had attempted to quit many times however found the temptations to smoke overwhelming, especially whilst having others smoke around her. She believed that she was young, resilient and therefore had plenty of time to quit in the future.

Losing her nephew to smoking was a wakeup call. “My nephew, he had a family and kids and everyone was in denial about his diagnoses of lung cancer. The doctor had given him news that he had three months to live. He couldn’t breathe. He was admitted to hospital, and there was the biggest mob by his bedside, he was dying and you know what, we all went into the car park and lit up a smoke. It was at that point of time that I thought this is ridiculous; we’ve just come from palliative care and we’re here smoking. It was at this point I decided to give up!”

By this stage Maxine had developed her own health concerns relating to smoking and the financial burden of smoking was taking its toll.  With the realisation that puyu was counterproductive for her wellbeing and happiness Maxine contacted Quitline. “If I’m going to be healthy, exercise and change my lifestyle to combat type 2 diabetes, I also have to quit smoking to support my lifestyle changes”. Maxine admits “giving up smoking has been the biggest challenge of my life and I say bring on the challenge!” Maxine now thrives on the challenge, using great willpower to conquer her quest to quit. Temptations are frequent, however the cost of cigarettes is now her biggest deterrent. With the money Maxine’s saves she’s able to regularly buy nice clothes as a treat.

The health effects have been noticeable. Maxine feels mentally strong and is very proud or her achievements. She has noticed an increased sense of smell, can breathe easily, has less congestion and doesn’t experience wheezing at night resulting in a more restful sleep. Maxine’s moved onto a new life phase, she’s taken control of her own health by taking advice from professionals.  Maxine lives with a supportive smoke free family and values the support of other non-smokers who contribute to her motivation. “I don’t want to smoke, enough’s enough! Smoking will no longer control me. Taking responsibility for my own health has worked in mysterious ways, I now have self-determination and feel empowered to take control of my life”.

The Nunkuwarrin Yunti Tackling Tobacco Team aim to encourage Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people living in the metropolitan Adelaide region to quit smoking. On World No Tobacco Day 31 May 2016 we encourage the community to consider smoke fee environments and quitting smoking. Need help to quit? Contact