Aussies fed up with poor cough etiquette
man coughing on woman“Please don’t cough on my head this winter!”

Australians are hoping that people with chesty coughs improve their behaviour this winter with the majority (87%) of people in the survey saying that they had experienced someone coughing on them “without covering their mouth or turning away” and 86% saying a chesty cough in a public place is much worse than a burp or belch.

The research results from the Bisolvon Chesty Cough Survey have been released as part of a new campaign called “I hate people coughing on my head”*. A new video has been produced as part of a social marketing campaign to highlight the importance of cough etiquette. The aim is to reduce the spread of germs and minimise the social offence that can be caused from impolite behaviour. Public transport and movie cinemas were identified as the key places where people were “most likely to be annoyed” by an offensive or inconsiderate cougher, with one in four respondents identifying these places.

54% of adults surveyed rated an uncontrolled cough as “extremely or very annoying” and rated poor cough etiquette alongside other anti-social miscreants like inconsiderate smokers and gum chewers who leave their gum behind. 30% of the respondents said that being near an inconsiderate cougher was “definitely more offensive” than a cigarette smoker smoking near them.

The chesty cough, where the person is trying to clear mucus from their chest, is the style of uncontrolled cough that causes the most offense. The vast majority (78%) rated this style of cough as much more offensive than a dry, throaty cough.

According to Community Pharmacist and media health commentator, Gerald Quigley, many people are unaware of how easily germs can spread and stresses the importance of managing coughs better this winter.

“There is definitely a serious public health aspect to better cough etiquette,” said Quigley. “Germs generated by coughing can travel at speeds up to 1000km per hour, almost as fast as the speed of sound. So not only will poor etiquette offend the people around you, but you’re also increasing the risk of spreading the germs that are causing that cough in the first place.”

Health authorities recommend that people should cough into their sleeve or otherwise into a tissue which is then promptly discarded. If you can not control your cough you should turn away from other people when coughing. If you have a chesty cough which is producing mucus then you should speak to your pharmacist about what is called a “mucolytic” cough medicine that can help thin down the mucus so it is easier to cough up to clear the chest.