If this preliminary bid to ban smoking on hospital grounds is successful, it’s a move that could be rolled out nationwide. The hope is that it will stop smokers from blocking entrances and remove temptation for those patients staying on the wards.
Currently smoking is banned both in places of work and outdoors in enclosed spaces.
The Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is now looking to introduce a council by-law to crack down even further. According to the proposed law, those who are found smoking risk going to court and being fined.
The initiative has been led by patients after several complaints, especially in regards to smoking around the maternity unit. One new mother commented that the first breath of ‘fresh’ air her baby took was full of tobacco smoke.
“It’s potentially a massive step forward and is the right thing to do.” Says Professor John Britton, from the University of Nottingham.
“One in five people admitted to hospital in Nottingham is a smoker and many are admitted because of smoking related disease.”
He goes on to explain that while the hospital can help patients while they’re in the confines of the ward, it is much harder for them to cope when they look outside and see people smoking.
At the moment visitors of hospitals can be asked not to smoke, but there is no legal requirement for them to stop. NUH chairwoman, Louise Scull is in talks with the city council about the by-law and believes that it will bring parity to situations where hospitals are able to take disciplinary action against staff who smoke on site, but has no sanctions for visitors or indeed patients.
Simon Clarke, from pro-smoking group Forest has described the move as heavy handed, and said banning smoking in the open air seems “utterly extraordinary”.