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Two thirds in Southern Trust support absolute smoking ban in hospitals

Health officials in Armagh have welcomed the No Smoking Day announcement from Health Minister Jim Wells that all Trusts should be completely ‘smoke free’ by this time next year.

The Southern Trust has operated a smoke free policy since 2008, which prohibits smoking in all of its buildings, except those registered under The Residential Care Homes Order (NI) – which have a designated smoking room.

This latest move will mean that smoking will no longer be permitted anywhere on Southern Trust grounds, buildings, entrances, car parks or in cars by anyone, including patients, clients, visitors, staff, and contracted workers.

Medical Director, Dr John Simpson who is leading the smoke free plans in the Southern Trust, said today (Wednesday): “With over 2,300 deaths each year due to smoking related illnesses like cancer and heart disease, and with the harmful health effects of second hand tobacco smoke now established beyond reasonable dispute, smoking is the most prominent preventable threat to public health.

“So it stands to reason that people should not be exposed to such a risk to their wellbeing when they are in a health and social care environment.

“This latest development goes much further than our previous policy as we will no longer have smoking shelters and people will no longer be permitted to smoke in cars.

“As we wanted to ensure that this direction was clearly communicated, we carried out a survey of staff, patients and the general public just before Christmas and are very happy to see that the majority of respondents (65%) will be backing us with these plans.

“We acknowledge that our plans are ambitious but, with the commitment of our staff and support from local people, we are ready for the challenge and know that it is the right thing to do, to protect the health and wellbeing of our local population.”

The smoke free proposals will be tabled at the Southern Trust Board meeting on March 26 for approval.

Sinn Féin MLA and Assembly Health Committee member Mickey Brady has welcomed the news that smoking is to be banned from all hospitals and health facilities.

The Newry & Armagh Assemblyman said smoking was responsible for many illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, and he believed anything that is done to encourage people to stop has to be welcomed.

Mr Brady said: “The news announced on No Smoking Day is welcome for people attending medical facilities across the North, in that they will no longer be exposed to passive smoking.

“I would appeal to smokers to adhere to the ban and work with the staff to ensure a smoke free environment for patients, staff and visitors alike”.

For further information and free support to stop smoking contact the Southern Trust’s Stop Smoking Service on 028 3741 5333 or Email: stop.smoking@southerntrust.hscni.net .

You can also visit www.want2stop.info or www.southerntrust.hscni.net/healthyliving.

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