Correcting misperceptions around smoking in hospital entrances: 


A study at Pinderfields Hospital asked smokers and non-smokers about smoking in the hospital entrance.  Baseline data was collected 10- 21 September 2012 and the intervention was rolled out during 20 October – 10 November 2012. The follow up data was completed in December 2012, with evaluation taking place in early 2013.


The campaign aimed to correct the misperception that lots of people smoke in the hospital entrance. Throughout the duration of the campaign patients, staff and visitors learned that 99% of others around them don’t smoke there.  Evidence shows that once they learn this message, smoking in the entrance at Pinderfields will become much less acceptable.


Using learnings from the data collection process of the SoNIC project, we designed a questionnaire in consultation with Dr Bridgette Bewick (University of Leeds) and tested it for coherence with our target audience – patients, staff and visitors, before making necessary adjustments. Research was carried out via a drop and collect approach as well as face-to-face for anyone who had noted that they needed help completing the survey.


Upon analysis of the data, which was carried out in consultation with Dr Bewick, the following message was agreed:

99% of hospital patients, staff and visitors keep our hospital entrance free from cigarette smoke


Intervention Approach:

Using social norms marketing techniques to tell patients, staff and visitors the truth about smoking in entrances to the hospital.  The message will allow them to hold a mirror up to their own behaviour, but it should not be authoritative, pushy or pass judgment about what is right or wrong.



The campaign was aimed at hospital patients, staff and visitors.  Visitors include patient visitors and staff visitors, such as reps.



A range of media should be used to communicate the message to different audiences at the hospital. Naturally there was a fair amount of media in the entrances, with bollard wraps, giant banners, window stickers and balloons. As the canteen was identified as a high footfall area during focus groups, media such as tray mats and paper napkins were used to communicate key messages. Specific targeting was used to reach audience groups, so for example staff were targeted with a flyer stapled to their payslip.



1. Promote the number ‘99%’ using ambient media around the hospital

2. Saturate the key messages in high footfall locations, ensuring we reach all key audiences

3. Use new marketing methods that the target audience may not have seen in the hospital setting before,to ensure our target audience noticed the messages.


One of the interesting findings from before the campaign was how wrong people’s ‘best guess’ was about the percentage of people who smoke in the entrances. So for example people thought that only around 46% of patients did not smoke in the entrance – but in reality this figure was a lot higher (around 99%). There’s a big difference between what people thought (46%) and what people are actually doing (99%). After the campaign people’s ‘best guess’ got a little closer – after the campaign people guessed around 54%. So it looks like the campaign made a difference and it helped people to realise that smokefree entrances really are the norm at Pinderfields


If you are interested in hearing more about this project or commissioning a similar project email