What would Stanley make of it?
You’ve heard of the saying? Good things always come in 3’s. Well for me it’s no longer just a saying, I can now say it genuinely happens and I think I can add it happens in more than three’s!
The weekend of 26/27 September 2015 was no ordinary weekend. For this Cardiff City FC, Wales (round and oval ball) supporting fanatic it will not be remembered for the glorious continuation of our ‘Indian Summer’ but as a rare occasion when three sporting results aligned to bring a huge smile to my face. Yes, it finally happened. Firstly, Cardiff City FC won (a non-descript 2-1 victory against the mighty Charlton Athletic – hey, a win is a win), secondly this was backed up by Wales defeating the ‘enemy’ in the Rugby World Cup, and finally (and key) to all this, those neighbours from ‘down the M4’ lost at Southampton (sorry Jeff it had to happen eventually!). For a Cardiff City fan with 30 years of hurt this was the Holy Grail. There’s definitely a link between wellbeing and sport – proof being the fixed smile etched on my face. All of a sudden the world seemed a better place.
But the good news doesn’t stop there (of course Scotland and Ireland are coasting towards the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup) and it’s to do with something many of us thought might never happen. And so on to my 4th ‘good thing’.
It’s been 6 months since NHS Dumfries and Galloway launched its Smoke Free Policy. This Policy initiative is an action detailed in the Scottish Government’s Tobacco Control Strategy and is one of 21 actions set out in the Strategy to be taken forward by NHS Boards. The Strategy has the overarching ambition of ‘Creating a tobacco free generation of Scots by 2034’ (in reality this translates to a smoking prevalence among the adult population of 5% or lower – the current rate is around 20%).
As the journey towards creating a smoke free NHS Dumfries and Galloway began there was a quick realisation that this was not going to be an easy action to achieve – views on smoking are often polarised and there are ‘hearts and minds’ to win over. Some said it could never be done without legislation. In essence however operating smoke free NHS sites is a good thing to do and surely the NHS should be seen to be leading by example in creating smoke free environments? – we are after all a ‘health promoting health service’.
When looking at a time-line of notable dates in the history of tobacco it seems somewhat strange that the NHS has taken so long to move towards smoke free environments.
Did you know?
1571 – Monardes, a doctor in Seville, reports on the wonder of the tobacco plant. He lists 36 illnesses including; toothache, worms, falling finger nails, lockjaw and cancer which he believed could be cured by tobacco
1600’s – the Pope bans smoking in holy places
1693 – Smoking banned in the House of Commons
1868 – UK Parliament passes the Railway Bill which mandates smoke free carriages
1939 – 1945 – cigarettes included in soldiers rations, tobacco companies send free cigarettes to troops
1951 – first large scale study (Doll and Bradford-Hill) on relationship between smoking and lung cancer published in British Medical Journal
1952 – Stanley Matthews features in cigarette advertising campaign
1958 – first Health Authority smoking cessation clinic established in Salford, Greater Manchester
1971 – Rank Leisure becomes first UK cinema chain to provide smoke free cinemas
1983 – Launch of Glasgow 2000 – campaign to make Glasgow smoke free by 2000
1984 – first National No Smoking Day held
1985 – London Regional Transport ban smoking on all Underground stations
1988 – Sheffield City Council – announces it will introduce a smoking policy affecting 33,000 employees
1988 – Royal Navy cease 200 year practice of supplying shore-based staff with cheap cigarettes
2005 – Scottish Parliament passes the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill which came into effect on 26 March 2006
2015 – City of Bristol trials smoke free zones in two public squares
2015 – NHS Boards in Scotland introduce smoke free ground policies
2015 – Smoking in cars with children present banned in England and Wales from 1 October (Scotland likely to follow)
With leadership, partnership working, negotiation, communication and the support of staff the Policy was developed and went ’live’ on 31 March 2015. Six months on and it seems like a good time to assess where we are in terms of the Smoke Free Policy. Suffice to say going smoke free has been a success and this success is in no small way a result of all our staff supporting the Policy. A big thank you to all colleagues for championing and adhering to the Policy. We have come a long way on this journey and it’s hard to believe that until 6 months ago it was not unusual to witness groups of smokers at the front entrances to our hospitals.
‘It’s great that the front entrance to the hospital is now clear of smoke and I can breathe fresh air’ (DGRI visitor)
‘I am a smoker and I was sceptical. The introduction of the Smoke Free Policy has been good for me. I am now smoking less and am trying to quit’ (Staff member)
It is recognised that for some complying with the Policy has been challenging. However, there is support available. The excellent NHS Dumfries and Galloway Smoking Matters Service provide help to stop smoking. If you want to find out more about the service or make an appointment with an Advisor contact:
Smoking Matters Service T: 0845 602 6861 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
So what’s next? Work is progressing with Mental Health Services focussing on supporting the implementation of smoke free mental health sites, we need to keep up to date with any developments in terms of possible smoking legislation (the Scottish Government are proposing legislation is passed making smoking on NHS grounds a statutory offence) and we need to keep abreast of the latest advice and good practice regarding cessation support. Whatever happens we cannot afford to become complacent otherwise it will undo all the good work achieved so far. We all need to play a role in reinforcing the smoke free message. A gentle reminder about the Policy when talking to patients, visitors and staff colleagues will go a long way to ensuring we continue to maintain the excellent progress we have made.
Finally, with 4 good things coming together perhaps I should have pushed my luck and bought that Lottery ticket. Suffice to say I didn’t – I’m still here championing a health promoting health service. What would Stanley have made of it all?
Phil Myers is a Health and Wellbeing Specialist for NHS Dumfries and Galloway