Taking action on smoking and health
A project helping money advice services to generate conversations about smoking has found the approach well received, and concluded that it could help generate significant savings for people under financial pressure.
Health charity ASH Scotland had previously consulted a range of services providing financial advice and support, finding staff concerned about the impact of smoking costs on their clients. However, they also found staff unsure about starting conversations on smoking, in case they were perceived to be preachy or judgemental, or seen to blame people for their money problems.
In response ASH Scotland worked with frontline support organisations to develop materials that helped generate conversations on smoking in a neutral way. Creating a fake cigarette brand (“Coping and Richer”) meant that the group could create brightly designed cigarette packs that could be left in consultation rooms or on reception desks. In an age of ugly, unbranded cigarette packs these materials look so out of place that many clients asked about them. Staff were briefed to respond that these packs contained information about free support available to save money by stopping smoking, if they wanted to discuss that. Staff agreed to only pursue discussions where clients wished it.
Jackie Ritchie, Housing Management Team Leader at Kingdom Housing Association, said:
“Service users were intrigued by the packs displayed in the housing office, and the ones that asked about it were happy to take the ‘ten tips to quit’ leaflets away.”
Amie Tait, Family Outreach Worker at Circle, said:
“It was a real asset and handy resource to complement conversations about smoking, that people can reflect on and use to access support services”
Kelly Gallagher, Debt Advice Team Leader at Edinburgh Advice Shop, said:
“I have had client conversations about tobacco costs before, but never had a resource to offer them giving information on support. So the ‘ten tips to quit’ cards to give to clients have been very useful.”
Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said:
“A packet of even the cheapest supermarket cigarettes a day adds up to £3000 over a year. With most people who smoke saying that they want to quit, anything that money advice services can do to help them reach that goal could achieve huge savings."
“Clearly it’s important to get the conversation right, and by working with staff in money advice services we’re confident that this simple idea helps to address the concerns we’ve heard, leaving staff better able to do the best for their clients.”
The project report highlights how over 30 organisations providing financial advice are continuing to use the Coping and Richer materials to enable conversations on smoking with their clients. In the meantime an adapted version of the packs will soon be trialled in pharmacies across Grampian, and a further adaptation is being considered for dentists’ practices.
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.