Smoking around hospital entrances could soon be a thing of the past as the Southern Health Trust has embarked on a consultation exercise to ban smokers from indulging in their habit anywhere on sites under its control.
The Trust is seeking the views of patients, service users, visitors, staff and the general public before making a decision on introducing a smoke-free policy across all of its health and social care facilities.
The Trust says smoking continues to be the single greatest cause of preventable illness and death in Northern Ireland. Each year some 2,300 people here die from smoking related illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, bronchitis and emphysema.
To support public health in Northern Ireland the Minister for Health and the Chief Medical Officer have urged all Trusts to go completely smoke free as soon as possible.
This process is already well underway in the Republic of Ireland, with 49 acute hospitals completely smoke free.
The Western Trust became the first Smoke Free Trust in Northern Ireland in March of this year.
The survey runs until Sunday, November 30.
Currently all Southern Trust buildings are smoke free in line with legislation.
If the Trust introduces smoke free sites, this will mean that smoking will not be permitted ANYWHERE on Trust grounds – buildings, entrances, pavements, car parks or in cars by anyone including patients, visitors, staff, service users and contracted workers.
The existing smoking shelters will also be scrapped.
Dr John Simpson, Medical Director in the Southern Trust, said: “The Trust is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the whole population and we believe that smoke free sites is a further positive step in reducing the risks to public health that smoking poses.
“Smoking continues to be a problem on Trust sites, particularly around entrances and exits. People walking past these smokers are exposed to second hand smoke and there is also the unsightly issue of litter and the fire hazards created from discarded butts.
“Smoking can increase the risk of wound infections, post-operative complications, prolong hospital stay and even lead to re-admissions.
“Smoke free sites will help smokers to stop smoking as it will provide an environment where social pressures to smoke are reduced.”
The Trust offers a Stop Smoking Service and has a 75% success rate.
For an appointment contact:
Tel: 028 3741 5333 (9am – 5pm from Monday to Thursday. This includes 24 hour answer service)
Smokers Helpline Tel: 0808 812 8008
To complete the Trust survey on smoke free sites click on the link below:
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