Smoking ban at hospitals ‘is being ignored’

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
15 Apr 2009

NHS Lanarkshire’s blanket ban on smoking within hospital grounds is still being defied by patients and staff, in spite of additional security being employed to enforce the policy.

NHS Lanarkshire first imposed the ban in August 2008 in a bid to reduce the health risk posed to patients, staff and members of the public.

However, Dr Lesley Armitage, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, admitted that people are still defying the ban, saying: “We are aware that some people are still smoking on the grounds. We would ask these people to consider their own health and to comply with the policy.”

A hospital worker who wished to remain anonymous confirmed that patients who smoke are constantly ignoring the rules.

He said: “Most of the patients who smoke are ignoring the smoking ban and going around the back of the hospital to have a cigarette.

“The additional security is only on during the day so at night there is no-one there to stop people smoking and the rules are being ignored by both patients and staff.

“It could also be dangerous to walk out of the hospital grounds in the middle of the night just to have a cigarette.”

An NHS spokesperson confirmed that there are currently no procedures in place to impose fines or sanctions on members of the public for smoking on hospital grounds but confirmed that members of staff caught breaking the rules could be subject to disciplinary action.

Monklands Hospital currently employs a number of security staff during the day, with the sole purpose of enforcing the rules.

The use of extra staff will be costing NHS Lanarkshire thousands of pounds and is currently being reviewed by the health board, who are looking at further ways to encourage people to stop smoking on their premises.

Dr Armitage added: "Smoking is the biggest single preventable cause of ill health and early death in Lanarkshire.

“NHS Lanarkshire is committed to reducing the serious health risk posed by smoking to patients, members of the public and staff and the revised No Smoking Policy is key to tackling this issue.

“We would like to thank those who observe the policy and remind people that there is support available to help them quit through their local stop smoking service.

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