Public Sector: Smoke Free NE targets business

Campaign body Smoke Free North East is aiming to convince businesses, consumers and politicians about the importance of smoke-free workplaces as it strives to cut the number of deaths caused by smoking.

The new body is a coalition of 23 Primary Care Trusts in the North-East, one of the unhealthiest regions in England, according to Smoke Free.

The body has hired Newcastle-based agency Robson Brown to manage the push. Head of PR Colin Shevills said: 'It is not a question of: Why we are doing it? but a question of: Can we afford not to? Heart disease and cancer statistics in the North-East make the region one of the unhealthiest in England.'

Smoke Free wants a total ban on smoking in public places and aims to build on proposals in the Government's White Paper on public health, published last November, which outlined plans to ban smoking in bars that serve food, restaurants and clubs by the end of 2008.

'Everyone is entitled to work in a smoke-free environment and this will be our main message. Research shows that the vast majority of people agree with this statement and in protecting workers from smoking, we aim to reduce the total number of smokers,' said Shevills.

The campaign will feature face-to-face briefings with MPs and councillors in the North-East, as well as media relations targeting local and national press and broadcast media.

Smoking caused 5,800 deaths in the North-East in the past year, the equivalent of 15 deaths per day, and 35 people under 65 die from second-hand smoke every year in the region, said Smoke Free.

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