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Communications disease

Smoking ban comms costs being hidden by NHS

Department of HealthI am looking forward to the smoking ban on 1st July no end. What I am not enjoying so much is the government comms fest that is accompanying it. Their own comms manager, Ron Finlay, described this at a recent conference as “a blizzard of publicity” and it touches on brands of rolling papers and tabacco. Does it have to be a blizzard? Can’t it just be a sensible amount of publicity? It is going to be the law after all and the English are notable for their law abiding nature.

My guess is that this is costing £30 million. At this stage I can only guess because the Department of Health, which is leading this campaign, has so far refused to respond to my three requests for the information. Today I wrote to their Tobacco Programme Manager, Nick Adkin, in the hope that he will fess up.

I made the first request on 17th May, then again on 5th June and 18th June. I have not heard a word back.

At least these people are artless. Although they don’t like to brag about how much raw cash they are spending they can’t help blowing their own trumpet and using their little website to brag about how much wonderful advertising they are doing, follow the link. All sounds great but the Department of Health reckoned that 93% people had got the message back in April, follow the link. Having got a huge comms budget I guess it would be too much to hope that they would perhaps give it back and spend it on something more directly useful, like a few hip replacements say, rather than just tell people what they already know.

Could it be that the Department of Health is keen to be promoting itself just as Gordon Brown comes to power?

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