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Health promotion needs to be of this planet to be effective

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A suggestion by doctors on how to prevent teenagers smoking was made for a different utopia than the one we live in

I loved the recent proposal by doctors to ban anyone born after 2000 from smoking. At last week’s British Medical Association annual conference delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on the sale of cigarettes to any individual born after the year 2000. It has a delightful simplicity and protects the future generation from the many harmful effects of smoking by producing a “smoke-free generation”.

If only changing health behaviour was so simple and so easily administered. If so I would propose that pubs that have served anyone more than three units of alcohol in one day should refuse to serve them any more. And that anyone buying sweets or fatty foods can only do if they also buy fruit and vegetables at the same time.

Unfortunately with these proposals and that of the BMA there is one problem, well actually two. First it would be impossible to police, and second people would take no notice.

Changing health behaviour is a complex issue and one that nurses grapple with every day as they use their relationships with people to promote health. More and more nurses are taking on this responsibility and taking opportunities for brief interventions where they can – making every contact count.

This week on 1 July sees the second national public health conference for nurses, midwives, health visitors led by Public Health England.

Nursing Times will be reporting on the event, which includes details of the Population Health Framework – which will help to shape the work of nurses in the future in this essential area. The title of the conference “At the Heart of it All” says it all. Nurses are at the centre of any initiative to change and improve the public health. But as nurses know, that task is not as simple as doctors would like it to be.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • It's high time corporate chums of this administration felt some real heat for their shameless plugging of junk food and fizzy pops to kids.

    These 'captains of industry' wouldn't be proud of marketing drugs or child porn, so why are they so proud to be known as companies who damage the health of so many people? Their logos are everywhere and so are their expensive ads.

    They're marketing ill health, unhappiness and early death to our kids and making huge profits. And the government just blames the victims who consume it because there's so little else and the rubbish is everywhere in schools, high streets and sports centres.

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  • 'If only changing health behaviour was so simple and so easily administered.'
    Well Kathryn, it is simple really, with some political will. Public health policy changes behaviour and makes people healthier.
    The complex, frustrating and costly thing to do is 'grapple' with changing behaviour by spending huge amounts of time and energy telling people about whats bad for them, when by and large, they already know, but for whatever reason can't change their lifestyle.
    Right now is a good time for imaginative and radical health policy. More people, more illness and the same amount of resources

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