< Go to Homepage

British Public Health Ad from the 1940’s Teaches Sneezing Etiquette in the Most British Way

History By

Public service announcements are better remembered for being accidentally amusing (or cringeworthy) than for the information they try to convey. This public health campaign from Britain’s Ministry of Health about containing the spread of disease is no exception.

Following WWII, public health initiatives soared in Britain. While most posters were banal, films educated citizens in a wry manner, despite the serious nature of the messages. The film below, called “Coughs and Sneezes,” is a tongue-in-cheek video to teach Brits proper etiquette for sneezing. The film features a portly man with a large nose sneezing haphazardly in public before the narrator intervenes to set him straight. It was designed to show how easy it is to avoid spreading disease, and how inconsiderate it was to not make an attempt at it.

The film’s star is also featured in several other PSAs, such as the 1948 films “Pedestrian Crossing” and “Jet Propelled Germs.” You’ll find all three of these videos below.