THE 100-day countdown has started for a health trust in its mission to go completely smoke-free.
Over the last few months the trust has been focusing on making people aware of its campaign and offering specialist support to smokers to help them quit.
Areas being focussed on include around the entrances of the University Hospital of North Tees and the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
The latest local figures show a 15% adult smoking rate in Stockton and a 19.2% prevalence in Hartlepool compared to a national average of 14.9% and a North East prevalence of 16.2%.
Survey results show that of the 6.1 million smokers in England 6 in 10 say they want to quit.
Clare Henry, the trust’s specialist alcohol and tobacco nurse adviser, has been leading on the smoke-free campaign.
She said: “Earlier this year the trust re-launched its smoke-free agenda, committing to being completely smoke-free by March next year.
“Since then we have been spreading the message to as many people as possible about what we can all do to help go smoke-free.
“We have particularly focused on the areas around our two main hospital sites, including the main entrances, which we recognise are a real challenge. We have had an increase in complaints from parents with newborn babies and children.
“It’s about letting people know that it isn’t acceptable to smoke on our grounds and we can help them quit. At the start of next year we will be unveiling new signs, floor vinyl mats, posters and leaflets to help highlight this message.
“What we are looking to stress to people is the importance to have a healthy environment around our hospital sites.
“We are here to help smokers to quit – we have staff who can offer expert advice from the community stop smoking team, as well as nicotine replacement therapy.
“We really appreciate all of the support we are getting from staff, patients and visitors to go smoke-free.”
Smoking increases the risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions, including cancer and heart disease and doubles the risk of dying from a stroke.
The trust will also be providing designated smoke free areas for vaping because e-cigs are now judged to be 95% safer than smoking. Around 2.5 m adults are using e-cigs in England and they have helped thousands of people successfully quit.