Myth Busting

There are a lot of myths about smoking out there. These myths can make you think that smoking is just another harmless activity that the fun-police want to stop you enjoying. Rather than showing you boring facts and figures about how bad smoking is, we got the Kiwi celebs featured on this website to tell you firsthand what their experiences of smoking have taught them about the myths out there.



LANI PURKIS: The percentage of people who smoke is definitely smaller than the people who don't smoke. Now I'm one of the only ones who doesn't smoke. I've found that when you're on the other side, you realise how few people do smoke.

SIMON HUGHES: The fact that they're banning smoking indoors shows that people are definitely against smoking. It is not the normal thing. It is not the majority. It is the minority of people who are smoking in New Zealand anyway. Picking up the cigarette is going to make you the minority.

KARA RICKARD: A lot of the younger kids who I know these days donít really smoke.

LANI PURKIS: I don't think that smoking is as normal as it used to be. It's very abnormal to be a smoker.

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SHAVAUGHN RUAKERE: I would never feel pressure from anyone smoking. I donít think itís cool at all.

KARA RICKARD: Being a non-smoker, you donít have to feel really segregated outside in the dirty smokerís corner.

SAMUEL FLYNN SCOTT: I think itís completely socially acceptable to be a non-smoker. I think itís a norm and if anything itís the opposite for smokers who have to go and stand outside every forty-five minutes. There is no such thing as the 'cool smokerís scene'.

PENNY NEWTON: I think itís more acceptable these days to be a non-smoker than it is a smoker.

PAUL ROPER: Itís totally acceptable to be a non-smoker.

KIMBERLEY CROSSMAN: I think itís perfectly fine to be smoke free. I donít think youíre judged in any way.

JERMAINE LEEF: I think a lot of people in the industry are smokefree and itís definitely, in my opinion, itís cooler not smoking.

TE AWANUI REEDER: All the top celebs that I know donít smoke.Typically their skinís a lot nicer and they donít wear makeup, theyíre always in the crowd because theyíre not having to go out and have a smoke, theyíre always in the scene.

ANGELO MUNRO: Itís totally OK not to smoke. The perception that youíve got to smoke or youíre uncool only exists with teenagers. I think older people do respect if youíre not smoking.

SIMON HUGHES: I definitely didn't feel like an outsider for not being a smoker.

LANI PURKIS: It's much cooler to not smoke.

BRAD CARTER: If I had any advice to give, it would be that you don't need to smoke to be accepted. If you can get to a point in your life where you can stand upon your own individuality, really be yourself and not care what anyone else thinks about you then that is one of the coolest places you can ever get to in your life. GP WARU: Smoking is not something you have to do to grow up. If anything, you show your maturity by not smoking.

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HELEN CROWN: Itís like at every opportunity Iím outside smoking. I hate that. Iíd rather be one of those people who was more chilled and calm and just sit back and let the crew do their thing until it was my time to do it. It would be a lot cooler.

SIMON HUGHES: From my experience, most of the people who were picking up a cigarette wanted attention and you could tell that was their way of getting attention. It ended up backfiring on them because it wasnít considered a cool thing to do and I remember a lot of people looked at them and realised this and they were kind of more of an outsider with the smoke.

PHIL BOSTWICK: When I see people who are in that completely addicted state I know that it looks stupid, they look stupid and I wonder what went wrong in their head to make them think that every ten minutes they need to go outside and have a ciggie.

GP WARU: I had a great run-in with a New Zealand band, a very cool band, and I was back stage with them, enjoying the privilege of hanging out in the green room and I lit up a cigarette. They politely asked me to put it out. Youíve never seen a Maori go red like that. I was so embarrassed that I was so uncool with this rock and roll group that that was another one of the big reasons I quit.

VAUGHAN SMITH: When I see a young person smoking, or even a person my age smoking all I think is, 'at some stage you were too weak to say no to peer pressure.' To me it doesn't say 'cool' or 'I'm looking rad, I've got a smoke in my mouth', it says you were too weak to say no.

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SAMUEL FLYNN SCOTT: If youíre wanting to start smoking because you think itís cool, take that money that youíre spending on cigarettes and spend it on some good clothes because itís going to do a hell of a lot more with the ladies.

PAUL ROPER: The most annoying thing for me is girls who smoke. You donít want to pash her because she tastes like smoke. Itís gross.

LEE DONOGHUE: I choose not to smoke because I donít want to limit myself in life or professionally and itís a turn-off to the opposite sex too. I donít go after women that smoke, thatís a big no no.

JERMAINE LEEF: It completely turns me off seeing someone smoke a cigarette.

PHIL BOSTWICK: The worst thing is probably the smell and the taste of it. If you have a friend who has smoked, a girlfriend for example, and you havenít smoked and you go to kiss her itís really not the romantic experience that youíre really looking for and thatís happened before.

SAMUEL FLYNN SCOTT: I thought that maybe smoking was a way to meet girls or something but that didnít end up being true at all and it just seemed like quite a bizarre behaviour.

BEN MITCHELL: Women pay attention to smell, the way you hold your hair, and you can tell a smoker because their body becomes so acidic, their body starts to atrophie, their muscles, their gums start to erode, and they havenít even got to the smell yet because thatís up close, but you can tell in their skin, their cells, you know? It's decrepit

TIM PHIN: Girls that sing and smoke are definitely not sexy.

BEN MITCHELL: Lung cancer, I mean cancer of everything really, rotting of the gums, the mouth, all those decrepit things that make your mouth odorous and just so unattractive.

GP WARU: Nobody likes to kiss a smoker. Let's be honest guys, we all like our ladies. Ladies don't like to kiss hangi lips, and is there any other reason? Ladies and life. Don't smoke.

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HELEN CROWN: The way that I tend to run away from it all is Iíll go and have a cigarette because Iíll tell you now itís the most anti-social thing you can do.

VAUGHAN SMITH: Some people take up smoking because they think it will be social. Now that you aren't allowed smoking inside it's the very thing that will cost you your social life.

GP WARU: No, I don't think smoking is normal behaviour. I think less and less so in today's social networks. I think people today really feel like outsiders if they smoke, and they are outsiders cos they have to go outside.

SIMON HUGHES: A lot of places you go you see the smokers huddled out in the corners smoking their cigarettes. And let's be honest, no one wants to speak to someone who's blowing smoke in their face all the time. I think that smoking is more of an anti-social thing to do as opposed to a social thing to do with friends.

VAUGHAN SMITH: You have to go away from where the action is. Among my group of friends, I think that we've only ever had one friend that has been a smoker. It just became the fact that he'd have to go outside and sit in the cold, or go outside and stand amongst a whole group of people he didn't know. He wasn't very socially active so it cut down the amount he was smoking drastically.

PHIL BOSTWICK: As far as the cons [of smoking] go itís a health thing, itís a social thing as far as people around you think itís disgusting, it smells really bad, and it just doesnít look as cool as people think.

TIM PHIN: Also people who smoke are now segregated from people who donít smoke so for that reason thereís a stigma attached to it. They have to go outside into a dark corner and smoke, away from the fun and good times. Itís cooler to be smokefree now.

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DAVE GIBSON: The funny thing is nobodyís even noticed the difference in my behaviour. My life is still the same, I still go to the same places, I still go to the same cafť, I still sit in roughly the same seats, although I can sit inside now if itís cold, I still go to the same bars, I still do the same things, still talk to the same people, you know? Yeah, the acceptance of being a non-smoker is sweet, I think people donít really notice it.

TIM PHIN: Ex-smokers are respected by smokers because theyíve done the hard yards.

PHIL BOSTWICK: Sometimes you get into this frame of mind [at parties] where you think in order to have a really good conversation with someone or to hang out with certain people you have to smoke, but just because theyíre smoking doesnít mean you have to as well. You can be with them, you can hang out with them, you can laugh with them, you can do whatever with them, the same as them, and not smoke. Thatís fine.

DAVE GIBSON: Now that I quit smoking Iím at ease when I go out, I can be social, I can have a beer. I was at the last Silver Scrolls and I ended up in a conversation with Adam, whoís the head of our work label, and I actually had a massive talk to him for about an hour but that would never have happened before because I wouldíve only had ten minutes before needing a cigarette.

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HELEN CROWN: Then I remember there came a point in time when I felt like I had to have a cigarette just before the gig and then before I knew it, in between the sets I was having cigarettes, straight after the gig I was having cigarettes and I suddenly realised that Iíd shifted into like the next stage of being an addict. That was pretty scary. It was a scary reality to go, 'oh, Iím no longer choosing this thing, itís choosing me.'

DAVE GIBSON: Itís not about being a rebel because rebels have freedom to do what they want and be free from the establishment and from rules, and when I need to smoke Iím just not free at all. Iím trapped Ö I can only go to certain cafťs that I know have got a smoking section, I spend the whole time in a bar unhappy because Iím either outside smoking and going ĎI wish I was inside having a drinkí or Iím inside having a drink and thinking ĎI wish I was outside smoking.í Iím conflicted the whole time.

GP WARU: All those people we used to look up to as being the rebels of rock and roll because they smoked or did drugs or whatever, these are the guys with their hands up higher than anyone saying, 'Don't do it. Don't follow the same path because we've got forty years experience. You're only into it ten years and you're already feeling the effects. Imagine how you'll feel at my age? Cut it out and you'll live a lot longer and enjoy your music a lot longer.'

DAVE GIBSON: The funny thing, or the irony about all of this is the freedom I feel from quitting as opposed to what I assumed would be a lacking or a wanting feeling from not smoking.

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PENNY NEWTON: I think it is the idea that smoking would give me confidence and I got that idea from watching other people in the entertainment industry who were all chain-smokers. Youíd see movies and youíd see the newsreaders and the smoking and thatís fully ingrained into the media and it has been for a very long time. Even if it wasnít a direct message, it was definitely subliminal that cigarettes relieve stress and I think I bought into that idea. Therefore I made it my reality.

BEN MITCHELL: Thatís the absurdity of it all, thinking that theyíre going to relieve the stress by having a smoke but theyíre actually causing so much stress in life because itís a time waster. By going away for ten minutes, or going out and having a five minute ciggie, itís actually causing stress in their bodies and the stress of going out there, coming back, going out there every ten to fifteen minutes, thatís thing. GP WARU: It doesn't taste good, it doesn't relax you, it does nothing beneficial and everything bad.

KARA RICKARD: When I did smoke before shows it used to make me feel stressed out more, because it would speed up my heartbeat and Iíd smell yuck and then Iíd get upset. Iíd be like, 'you know you didnít want to have that smoke and it was gross so why did you do it in the first place?'

HELEN CROWN: I donít know what the scientific chemical stuff is but I guess it slows down your ability to absorb oxygen or something. It makes me late for things because I have to squeeze in a cigarette before I do something, which makes me stressed out, which always makes it harder to gig.

GP WARU: Tobacco industries make us think that tobacco relieves stress but you know what? You get along without smoking. People who don't smoke have stress free lives too. Everyone has stress. Everyone is going to deal with it, smokers or non-smokers. Non-smokers are going to live a lot longer. If you smoke, it just makes you more stressed cos you will start worrying about your health and your life.

BEN MITCHELL: People smoke, they stop thinking about their worries and think that the stress is going away but in fact smoking's causing more stress internally. They get more stressed from the addiction, going 'I need to smoke, I need to smoke.' Itís an addiction, chemically and psychologically, they need it and theyíre creating stress doing that.

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PENNY NEWTON: By the time I was nineteen I was smoking to replace snacks to help keep me thin. I wanted to send that message to other young girls that itís not actually the way to keep thin at all. I used to be heavily involved in fitness but because I was coughing up tar every morning I didnít feel like exercising therefore I donít feel like eating the right foods. So itís actually worked in reverse in the long term.