Page last updated at 06:18 GMT, Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Pub helps drinkers quit smoking

By Michelle Roberts
BBC News health reporter

Image of a pub
'Will that be a nicotine patch with your pint?'

From the outside the Fens pub in Hartlepool may look like any other village pub.

As you approach the door you're greeted by the usual sounds of people enjoying themselves and the aroma of alcohol mixed with tobacco smoke.

Rather than banning its clientele from smoking, the pub is offering ways to help them quit their habit while still enjoying their regular tipple.

Paula, 30, told me how her local helped her kick a 50 cigarette a day habit.

Pints and patches

"It's been six weeks now - six weeks on Wednesday," she says.

"I'd been smoking since I was 14, so for 16 years now. I was smoking 40 to 50 a day, so I was a heavy smoker. The first thing I would do in the morning when I woke up was light up.

"My husband had a scare with his heart recently so we both decided to stop.

"The people at the hospital told us about the scheme at the pub."

The smell of smoke hits you when you walk in...It makes me not want one.
Ex-smoker Paula

The scheme started three years ago when staff at the pub who wanted to quit smoking were finding it hard to access the local smoking cessation services in Hartlepool during daytime hours.

One of the local health visitors, Jenny Jones, decided to set up an evening drop in clinic within the pub to make it more convenient for people.

From there it snowballed. The sessions run every Wednesday evening in the pub, where people can turn up for advice, a prescription and a pint.

Jenny said: "It's grown and grown. We now have two or three health visitors who can prescribe nicotine replacement therapies and a smoking cessation advisor who do about three hours every Wednesday night at the pub.

"We do a full assessment and then decide with the clients what will suit them best and then we support them through every week for the next three months and give them a prescription every fortnight if they need it."

Last orders

She said the demand had been so high that they hadn't even needed to advertise the service.

In 2003 the Department of Health set a target for Hartlepool to achieve 1,680 four-week quitters by 2006.

The three-year target has almost been met within two years.

Over 60% of those setting a quit date are smoke free at four weeks in Hartlepool.

Jenny said the projects success was down to the friendly, supportive atmosphere of the pub and the timing of the sessions so that they fall outside regular working hours.

"Ladies always come in in twos or threes and it is a bit of a treat for them. It's social.

"Some men will use it as an excuse to go to the pub for a drink.

"We have a laugh and a chat and support each other."

Ex-smoker Paula agreed. She said although people still smoked in the pub she didn't mind.

"It stinks in there. The smell of smoke hits you when you walk in.

"But it does not make me want to have a cigarette. If anything, it makes me not want one.

"I'll never smoke again - no chance. I feel a lot better in my self."

Smokers encouraged to kick habit
23 Sep 04 |  Scotland
08 Feb 03 |  Medical notes

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