Meet the Quit Champions
Reverend Sione Nisani Tolu
I started smoking when I was still at primary school in the 1960s and continued up until Secondary School at Tupou College. There were lots of Preachers who told us about the bad effects of tobacco, but we still made excuses – saying "do you think someone will not get to heaven for smoking?". It came to a time when we remembered to take packets of cigarettes and Port Royal to church but forgot to take our bible and hymns.
I had a really hard time coughing throughout my life, and it reached a time when my church called upon me to be a Reverend in a village while I was still in a hospital bed coughing. At that time I started to slowly quit smoking, but it was still really hard.
I started by quitting for a month or two, but after that I went back and smoked again and I felt I had no power to stop myself from smoking. In 2001 I asked God to help me stop smoking and to rid me of my cravings. Since then, the Lord has changed my life and taken away my cravings for tobacco.
I am teaching what I learnt to my children, and in every church that I move to I declare the area to be smoke free. I believe that if there is something good, we should move towards it.
I started smoking when I finished High School in 1973. I was the only one who smoked a lot in my family. I reached a stage where I was making fake promises with my Dad - he gave me a reward of $1000 to quit smoking. But I continued to smoke. I was really struggling to quit tobacco.
On the 29th of December 1999, when I was preparing for the new millennium, my heart was touched by a message from a Preacher, who said that our body is God’s temple. It had me thinking about burning God's temple with tobacco.
As of 29th of September 1999, I've been free from the bondage of tobacco. Even though I was able to provide economically for my family when I smoked cigarettes, I lost a lot of money.
The stage I'm at now I thank God for helping me to quit smoking. I am healthier now and able to perform my duties better than before. I'm 60 years and about to retire but my employee has just extended my contract for some years. At this stage as a quitter, I can still do exercise and join in sports to help me stay fit and healthy.
I want to challenge the people of Tonga to stop smoking because it is the best thing you can do for your body, family, and the whole country.
I only smoked when I was drinking Kava, that is the only time I smoked cigarettes. I am a singer and play guitar when in a Kava sessions but it came to a time that I recognized that I had shortness of breath.
I smoked one packet of cigarettes a day. I also realized how much money I wasted on buying cigarettes. When I think back now, I think I spent almost $4,500 every year.
I had a small income from my salary but almost 70% of it I spent on cigarettes and maybe only 25-30% on my family.
In September 2015 I was hospitalized with a nose problem and the Doctor told me that my smoking was making the problem worse. I stayed in the hospital for 1 month and from there I promised myself that I will quit smoking forever.
I quit all of a sudden and there was nothing to make me go back and smoke again or even touch a cigarette up until now. Even when I go to Kava parties where my friends are smoking, I still don't smoke.
Now I'm feeling healthier than before and am breathing better. I believe that smoking is a waste of money and nothing good comes out of it for yourself or your family. It's just a waste.