Smoking messages throughout the ages

A North East NHS Trust has been exploring communications archives from the eighties to understand how the issue of smoking at their hospital sites was tackled historically.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will go completely smoke free in Hartlepool, Stockton and Peterlee from March 1st 2019. The team who are driving the initiative decided to review messages about smoking throughout the years, and were shocked by some of their findings.

Ruth Dalton, Head of Communications and Marketing for Trust explained more ‘we decided to reflect on some of the key messages that our organisation has communicated over the years. We are very fortunate to have an extensive back catalogue of old newsletters that date back to the seventies. They seemed the most appropriate place to start in terms of what we were saying way back when. The item that stood out for me was a cartoon submitted depicting a ‘Daddy’s Smoking Room’ on a maternity ward circa 1980. The thought of its existence – exaggerated for impact or not in 2019 is scandalous. For our Trust, we want the thought of people stood outside our hospital entrances smoking to evoke exactly the same reaction’.

The old articles from the hospital ‘Voice’ publication give insight to smoking related statistics in the eighties. They included around 100,000 deaths related directly to tobacco in 1987 compared to a reported 120,000 in 2018. ASH, a public health charity established in 1971 reports that of the respiratory disease-related deaths in the UK annually, around a third are connected to tobacco.

Julie Gillon, Chief Executive for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust comments ‘smoking statistics for the North East are sobering to read. We have some of the highest rates of smoking related deaths in the country. I am currently working on a project as part of the Yale System Leadership Programme and one of our major pieces of work is centred around smoking in pregnancy. Around 65,000 babies are born to mothers who smoke each year. Nationally around 10% of expectant mothers will smoke throughout their pregnancy. In the North East that figure almost doubles to 17%. Smoking during pregnancy has an incredibly detrimental impact on the unborn child. We must tackle this issue and our sites becoming smoke free on March 1st 2019 is just one of the steps we will take’.

The Trust will continue to drive the clear message that smoking will not be tolerated on their sites from March 1st 2019. Deepak Dwarakanath, Medical Director added ‘we want our region to have aspirant health ambitions. Family is such an important part of North East communities, and we want the people we support to have as much time as possible with theirs. We would encourage anyone with a tobacco addiction to seek help. We owe it to our patients, visitors and staff to explicitly ban smoking on all of our hospital sites’.

Leave a comment

comments powered by Disqus