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New parents’ concerns as baby’s first breath of ‘fresh air’ is second hand smoke

Smoke Free Sites Maternity Image April 2019

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust is reminding everyone that smoking and the use of e-cigarettes is not permitted anywhere on Trust sites.

The policy applies to all staff and volunteers, patients, visitors, contractors and anyone who enters the Trust’s hospitals, buildings and grounds.

New parents, Blàithnid and Paul Hughes recently welcomed their baby girl into the world, they said: “We were very impressed by the care and professionalism of the Southern Trust Maternity Team and are overjoyed at the safe arrival of our baby, Meabh.

“However a concern of ours was that our baby’s first experience of ‘fresh air’ would be contaminated with second-hand smoke as we left the unit.

“I found myself coming in and out of the hospital a number of times during my wife’s admission and on various occasions I was met by a cloud of smoke regardless of the many posters, signs and a loud tannoy playing smoke free messages!

“It is simply unfair and selfish of these smokers to put, not only other people but babies – sometimes very vulnerable premature babies, at risk to their second-hand smoke.”

Melissa Strain, Trust Smoking Cessation Midwife highlighted: “Second-hand smoke is a lethal cocktail of more than 4,000 irritants, toxins and cancer-causing substances and is especially harmful for children as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.

“When you smoke, most of the smoke doesn’t go into your lungs, it goes into the air around you where anyone nearby can breathe it in – which isn’t just unpleasant for them, it can damage their health too.”

Video by InVideo

Sinéad Hughes, Trust Promoting Wellbeing Specialist Lead said: “Following the introduction of the Smoke Free Sites policy (9 March 2016) there has been a marked decrease in the level of smoking across all sites and we would like to thank all who use and visit our sites for their support.

“Whilst most people are adhering to the policy, there are still some people who are not and it is important that we remind everyone of the reasons why we introduced the policy in the first place:

 1 in every 2 people who smoke will die from their habit. By going smoke free, the health service is tackling smoking head-on by making its premises healthier environments.

 Smoking not only has a human cost. With one third of cancer deaths, and a significant proportion of coronary heart disease, strokes and circulatory illnesses, caused by smoking, it creates a massive financial burden on the health service in treating preventable smoking- related conditions.

 It is unacceptable for patients, visitors and staff to be subjected to second-hand smoking while on health and social care facilities.

“By creating smoke free environments, supported by stop smoking services, we hope we can take a
big step forward in empowering people to quit their habit and live healthier lives.”

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