Smoke damage.

Smoke damage

In our world, the work we create is often very ephemeral. The life span of brands is brief, that of most campaigns even briefer. But sometimes a challenge pops up offering the opportunity to create something that has to hang around by necessity. We’re tackling such a challenge right now where behavioural change is the long-term aim.

Here’s the issue: whilst there are numerous anti-smoking or smoking cessation messages in the UK health care system, there has never been a campaign aimed at families with babies who have spent time on a Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Premature or unwell babies are extremely vulnerable to smoke, and its smell and chemical traces around the home are hard to shift. It can stay on the breath and clothing for two hours or more. It will cling to soft furnishings, carpets, curtains, the dog and the cat. It will hang around in the car and it will definitely stick to grandma’s coat.

So, here’s our challenge: communicate to families returning NICU babies into the family home the critical importance of creating and maintaining a smoke-free environment to enable their child to have the best possible start in life.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the University of East Anglia’s Medical School and University Hospitals of Leicester are embarking on a joint research project funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The aim is to create a model for an intervention that can educate the entire family to the dangers a NICU baby faces when exposed to any form of smoking.

Our first consideration has been what the intervention should be called. This has been agreed after a variety of candidate names were tested in qualitative research with families and health professional groups involved with the programme. Creating the behaviour change campaign messages is next, which will also be researched over the coming months. Once proven, the successful model could potentially be adopted in NHS Trusts across the country.

We’ll post more news about the project later in the year, as well as updates on Twitter –