May 3, 2006 -- Today Myrtle Beach Online ran a very short unsigned Associated Press piece about The Nightingales, a group of nurses who work to reduce the harmful impact of tobacco, with a special focus on direct protests against major tobacco companies. The AP piece is headlined "Nurses join forces to address Reynolds American." It reports that some members of the group have become shareholders of the tobacco giant "so they can speak out about the tobacco-related problems they see in their work" at the company's annual shareholders meeting. We thank the AP for its coverage of this important example of community-oriented patient advocacy.
The piece explains that the Nightingales planned to address the CEO of Reynolds American at the annual meeting on May 3. It also reports that the group says it will ask the company to "end all active marketing and promotion of cigarettes," which will (in the piece's words) "protect children, save lives, generate goodwill for the company and demonstrate genuine corporate responsibility." The piece also has two short indirect quotes from nurses, presumably members of the group. It notes that Ellen Hahn, director of the Kentucky Center for Smoke Free Policy, says "it's time to stop encouraging addiction." Sandra Toner, "a Missouri nurse who works with children," argues that the company's "flavored cigarette products...are targeted toward youth."
The piece provides a good example of patient advocacy on a broad level, something that most of the public probably has little sense that nurses do. (Nightingales founder Ruth Malone, a UCSF professor, served on our board from 2003-2004.) Of course, as the group's name suggests, this kind of spirited public action on behalf of patients and public health has been at the heart of the nursing mission since the time of Florence Nightingale. And however likely companies like Reynolds American may be to voluntarily cease advertising their lawful consumer products, this kind of protest makes important health points in a potentially influential forum. As the AP piece shows, it also draws media and public attention to the issues.
We salute the Nightingales for their efforts, which tell the public something important about nurses as well as tobacco.
See the May 3, 2006 AP article "Nurses join forces to address Reynolds American" from the May 3, 2006 edition of Myrtle Beach Online.
See more about the work of the Nightingales at www.nightingalesnurses.org