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SDHB Celebrates Smokefree Success

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

SDHB Celebrates Smokefree Success

Becoming a smokefree site was deemed controversial by some people, but well overdue by many last year, when Southland District Health Board (SDHB) introduced its policy to make all buildings, carparks and grounds smokefree. Today (one year later) SDHB celebrates its first birthday as a smokefree organisation along with a number of other smokefree success stories, including its own staff and patients.

“Last year, our staff survey showed 21% of staff smoked. One year later, just 11% have indicated that they are smokers – this is a hugely positive step forward and would seem to support that the smokefree message is being heard,” SDHB’s Smokefree Support Nurse Dawn Acker said.

Pacific Island Nurse, Elsie Freeman, is just one staff member who has become a smokefree success story in the past year.

“I had been smoking for 20 years, having started the habit when I was 12 years old. Two months ago I met with the Smokefree Support Service and was provided with a range of nicotine replacement therapy products and lots of encouragement which has all worked really well – I haven’t smoked since,” Ms Freeman said.

Mrs Acker said that there has also been significant growth in the number of patient referrals coming to the service from hospital staff.

“With the introduction of our smokefree policy, our staff are taking a much more proactive approach in offering patients who smoke the opportunity for support to give up during their stay,” Mrs Acker said.

Dr Kate Bayston, Physician to Oncology said that the increased referrals to smoking cessation services is encouraging.

“There certainly appears to be more of an understanding that just like on an aeroplane, you do not smoke while in hospital,” Dr Bayston said.

"A stay in hospital is an opportunity to give up with support from our staff. People who have tried and failed, should be encouraged to try again, especially when in hospital,” Dr Lo, Consultant Physician said.

In Southland over 230 deaths and more than 2,200 hospitalisations per annum can be attributed to smoking.

Perhaps more alarming is that nearly every amputation performed by Southland Hospital Vascular Surgeon Murray Pfeifer, is on a patient who smokes.

"It is important for smokers to realise that there is no evidence to show that the length of time you have been smoking has anything to do with your ability to stop, and that there are significant health benefits for stopping at any time,” Mr Pfeifer said.

Staff agree that the introduction of the policy has brought about a positive shift in behaviour by both staff and patients who are understanding the importance of supporting people to become smokefree.

SDHB will be celebrating these success stories on their first birthday as a smokefree site in the foyer of the hospital on Wednesday 1 June.

ENDS

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