World Health Organisation Award for North East Health Campaigner

29 May 2014

North East councils have agreed that tackling smoking is an on-going priority as Ailsa Rutter, Director of FRESH, is awarded a World Health Organisation - World No Tobacco Day medal, in recognition of outstanding work in tackling smoking.

This international and prestigious award has been reconised by the Association of North East Councils which has worked with Fresh and partners over a number of years to combat smoking and the harm of tobacco. Fresh is funded by the 12 local authorities in the North East through their Public Health grant.

Ms Rutter set up Fresh - the first regional tobacco control office in the UK in 2005, when the region had the highest smoking prevalence rate of any in England. Today rates in the North East are only slightly higher than the average for England. During the first five years of FRESH's work, smoking rates in the North East fell at twice the national average.

Work undertaken by Fresh has been highlighted in both the Government's current National Tobacco Plan - Healthy Lives, Healthy People - and the previous Government's National Tobacco Strategy A Smokefree Future.

The programme has also won the Charles Cully Memorial Medal from the Irish Cancer Society and Gold Medal in the inaugural Chief Medical Officer's Public Health Awards in 2009. Most recently the ‘Don't be the 1 campaign’ by Fresh won the prestigious Grand Prix award at the National Roses Creative Awards in May 2014.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh said: "When Fresh was set up in the North East the aim was to stop making headlines for being the worst area in the country for smoking related death and disease and do all we can to tackle our biggest killer."

"This is a tremendous honour, but it’s also credit to my committed colleagues at FRESH and many partners we work with, particularly within our 12 local authorities, who have demonstrated exceptional leadership for many years around tobacco issues.”

Cllr Paul Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils, said:
"Smoking affects the life chances of every child who grows up to smoke especially in some of our poorest wards. However, thanks to the work of Fresh and its partners the North East has shaken off its image as the worst area for smoking and now other regions look to us for ideas and inspiration. We are proud of the work carried out by Fresh and Ailsa's award is testament to her commitment and dedication. Councils have agreed that tackling smoking locally and as a region is an on-going priority."

View the full press release by Fresh