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Northumbria marches towards ‘smokefree’ status

Monday, 23 October, 2017
Northumbria marches towards ‘smokefree’ status

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is marching towards becoming ‘smokefree’ from the end of next March.

As part of its commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of its staff, patients and visitors, smoking will not be permitted in any of the trust’s hospitals, community sites or grounds across Northumberland and North Tyneside from 31 March 2018.

The step will help protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke and by providing support to help smokers quit, play a part in reducing the number of people who smoke and the serious illnesses associated with smoking.

Despite declines in smoking prevalence over recent decades, 17.2% of adults in the North East still smoke and tobacco use remains the single largest cause of health inequalities and premature death.

200 deaths every day in England are as a result of smoking-related illnesses and, for every death caused by smoking, approximately 20 smokers are suffering from smoking-related disease.

The pledge is supported by the directors of public health in Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Judith Stonebridge, public health consultant at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to remind residents in Northumberland and North Tyneside of our intention to go ‘smokefree’ from 31 March 2018.

“With less than six months to go, it’s important that all our patients, visitors and staff are aware of our plans and the support that is available to smokers to help them to quit.

“We have, as one of this area’s largest employers and the country’s leading trusts, an important regional role to help reduce the number of smokers and, in turn, the serious illnesses related to smoking.

“Going ‘smokefree’ will mean a much more pleasant, and above all, safer environment for everyone who uses, or works in, our services and bring about improvements in health. It also sends a clear message to our communities of the need for people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.”

Since launching the plans in March, the trust has been engaging with staff and setting up training to ensure that they act as ‘smokefree’ ambassadors and every opportunity is used to promote stopping smoking to patients. The trust has also held ‘smokefree’ roadshows across its hospital sites to raise awareness and as a result of this work some staff have already taken the opportunity to access support to help them stop smoking.

A key part of the trust’s work in the run-up to going ‘smokefree’ is providing stop smoking support to pregnant women in order to help give every child the best start in life, given smoking during pregnancy is associated with a range of negative health outcomes for mother and baby. Currently 16.7% of pregnant women in the North East are reported to be smokers when they give birth.

Liz Morgan, interim director of public health at Northumberland County Council, said: “The harmful effects of smoking are well documented and about half of all long-term smokers will die prematurely. There is no place for smoking in the NHS so I’m delighted that Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is taking this progressive step by becoming ‘smokefree’.”

Wendy Burke, director of public health at North Tyneside Council, said: “I am in full support of the trust’s comprehensive plans to become truly tobacco free, not only focussing on smokefree grounds but also supporting staff, patients and visitors to address nicotine dependency across the organisation.

“I look forward to the continued partnership between the council, trust and clinical commissioning group as we work together to promote a smokefree North Tyneside and improve health and wellbeing for the population.”

If you live in Northumberland, contact Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service on 01670 813135 or visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/stopsmoking for information on stopping smoking.

People living in North Tyneside can call 0191 643 7171 or visit http://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/597/quitting-smoking for details of community pharmacies and GP surgeries which provide stop smoking services.


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