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Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK


City launches anti-smoking blitz

The campaign will be launched in Birmingham's Victoria Square

Birmingham is to become the first major city in the UK to launch an all-out offensive against smoking.

Bryan Stoten, Birmingham health authority: city should be anti-smoking, but not anti-smoker
The 12-month "Helping Birmingham Stop Smoking" campaign will mobilise all sections of the NHS and the local authority in a concerted effort to persuade smokers to quit the habit.

Ambulances from West Midlands Ambulance NHS Trust and vehicles from Birmingham City Council will display specially designed stickers that will carry the campaign slogan.

Large poster billboards will also be erected on NHS land.

GP surgeries, schools and other health and city council outlets will be issued with stickers, posters and information in support of the campiagn.

Anti-smoking literature will also be mailed directly to homes in the city.

Thousands die

[ image: Bryan Stoten wants to drive smoking out of Birmingham]
Bryan Stoten wants to drive smoking out of Birmingham
Bryan Stoten, chairman of Birmingham Health Authority, said: "Each year as many as 2,800 Birmingham residents are known to die early from smoking caused illnesses.

"This is a dreadful waste of life and causes severe pain and misery to the people concerned and to their families.

"That is why we have brought together the NHS in Birmingham and Birmingham City Council to target this one specific health issue."

Mr Stoten also called on the tobacco industry to "come clean" and admit the damage that their products caused.

"I am calling on them to end the era of exploitation of the young, the poor and vulnerable members of our society by withdrawing all advertising, the placing of products in films and the paying of actors to smoke particular brands."

Paul Hooper, manager of Smoke Free Birmingham, said: "All different sections of the NHS will be working together with the same clear message, a very positive message that we are quite determined to push the tobacco industry out of the city."

Smokers' rights group FOREST called the Birmingham campaign "unsolicited nagging".

Campaigns director Martin Ball said: "This year-long anti-smoker nag is an unsolicited intrusion into the private lives of adults and reveals the true prohibitionist agenda of the anti-smokers.

"Persecuting both locals and visitors who smoke is one sure way to ruin the health of those Birmingham businesses who cater for smokers."

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