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Connecting to a smoke-free future

In the era of Skype weddings and Zoom drinks, some people have turned to video conference counselling for help in kicking smoking to the kerb.

One of those who has been successful in the battle against cigarettes has been Matthew Dawes (pictured right, alongside sons Liam and Greg and wife Michelle).

The former smoker had tried to give the habit the flick on multiple occasions over the years, but it took enrolling in Northern Sydney Local Health District’s iSCUPI program (Smoking Cessation through Personal Identification via internet) to get him over the line.

“I started smoking as a young teenager, most likely because it was the ‘cool’ thing to do,” Matthew, now 47, said.

“Over the last 15 or 20 years I had had a few goes at giving up smoking. I had a young family - the time which I need to be around for.

I tried the normal, cold turkey, speaking with the quit line and even Zyban but for whatever the reason they did not work for me and I continued to smoke.
Matthew Dawes, SCUPI participant


iSCUPI is a free, personalised treatment option for those who wish to give up smoking. People who enrol in the study receive one-to-one counselling via videoconferencing, a personalised treatment video and expert-led techniques proven to help people quit.

Matthew said a video produced by the program which showed the impact his smoking had and could have on his family was a real eye-opener.

“The program has a video that include the known effects from smoking and interplays this with your immediate family,” he said.

“While maybe you think you acknowledge these effects and the impact on the family, the video really rammed this home and reinforced the need to give up.”

Robin May, the psychologist who co-ordinates the study, said Matthew was just one of a number of people who had gone through the program.

“It’s very gratifying seeing Matt and other former smokers still not smoking,” he said.

“Smoking is still the biggest killer of preventable diseases. Pleasingly, our SCUPI trial published in 2019 had a success rate of 65 per cent after six months of quitting.”

 While the journey to quit was tough, Bonnet Bay local Matthew has certainly been enjoying the benefits of a smoke-free life.

“My sense of smell is back and food tastes better; the smokers cough that I always had is gone and I am fitter now than I have been in the last 20 years,” he said.

“That meant around 12 months ago, my sons and I could complete the Kokoda trek, something that had I still smoked, I could not have even contemplated.”

Participants are currently being sought for the next round of the SCUPI study.

If you smoke daily, are over 30 years old and want to quit, please visit, email or call (02) 9463 2517 for more information.


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