Any time of year is a good time to quit smoking, but with the surge of flu, RSV, and bronchiolitis in the colder months, it is especially important to be Smokefree in winter to reduce harm. 

Adults, children, and babies who are exposed to tobacco smoke a greater number of viral infections, and these infections are more severe and take much longer to get over:


Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV):

RSV is a virus that causes lung and respiratory tract infections, that is more prevalent in winter months. RSV infections are common in young children, especially in their first year of life: most all children will have had a RSV infection by their second birthday. Most tamariki will be able to recover at home. However, some children and infants especially those under six months old require hospital care.

Bronchiolitis and Pneumonia: 

RSV can cause bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small breathing tubes of the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lung). 

The risk of tamariki developing bronchiolitis or pneumonia increases if exposed to tobacco smoke either second-hand in the home, or in utero (while they are still in the womb if the mother smokes). Infants who are exposed to smoke in the womb grow less well, have smaller lungs, practice breathing less before birth so have smaller airways and are more likely to be born prematurely. Childrens’ lungs are not as developed as adult’s and so are more susceptible to harm from infections with the airways becoming blocked more easily.

The risk of young children and babies developing bronchiolitis as a result of an RSV infection can be reduced with virus precautions (hand-washing, covering coughs, etc.), and having a warm, dry home, but the number one prevention is to become Smokefree especially before birth.

Bronchiolitis in Babies: When to go to the hospital

For the first few days bronchiolitis symptoms are similar to a cold’s: runny, stuffy nose, cough, slight fever. These symptoms can progress to include persistent “brassy” cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, lethargy, difficulty feeding. Symptoms peak between days 3 and 5 and often resolve between days 7 and 10.

Red flags that let you know it is time to get health care for your under 4 week old baby:

  • Pauses or stopping breathing
  • Skin changes to very pale or an ashy, dusty colour
  • Respiratory distress
  • Unable to take 50% of usual feed volume

Support available to become Smokefree:

Stop Smoking Service 350 x 150

Nelson Marlborough Stop Smoking Service

This free service is available to anyone in the Nelson Marlborough region who smokes. This service is designed to give you the best chance of quitting and staying smokefree. 

Find out more about the programme here.


Pepi First 350 x 150
A special programme for pregnant women

We encourage pregnant women to participate in the Pēpi First quit programme designed especially for them.

Read about the Pēpi First programme here. 


Te Piki Oranga 350 x 150

Our kaupapa Māori programme - Te Hā

Te Hā (The Breath) is a kaupapa Māori programme provided by Te Piki Oranga as part of the Stop Smoking Service.

Learn more and enrol in the programme here.



Start your journey towards being smokefree today:

Freephone: 0800 NO SMOKE (0800 667 665)

Email: [email protected]

Online referral form: Use this form to refer yourself and we'll be in touch

Or ask your GP, midwife or other health practitioner to refer you.