An anti-smoking organisation has backed a campaign to ban smoking on all NHS property.
The bid, by Public Health England, is for a “tobacco-free NHS” with more support on quitting offered to patients, visitors and staff.
Many hospitals already have “smoke-free” rules in their grounds but some patients, visitors and staff flout them.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said he wants every hospital’s grounds to be completely smoke free areas.
He said: “I believe we can make the NHS a place that provides a suppotive tobacco-free environment for patients, staff and visitors, where helping people quit is fully integrated into their treatment.”
North East based anti-smoking group Fresh, which works to tackle the worst rates of smoking in the UK, has welcomed the call.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “We hugely welcome calls for the NHS to do all it can to help more smokers to quit.
“Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death in England and is the reason for nearly half a million hospital appointments in the NHS every year.
“This is about far more than smoking in hospital grounds. This is about recognising that smoking is tobacco dependence and that stopping smoking is the treatment for this.”
She added: “Here in the North East we have seen some brilliant examples of the NHS working to reduce smoking during pregnancy and among people with mental health problems, and we are working with Trusts to look at how we can implement best practice across the system.”
The campaign has attracted support from the Sunderland community on social media, with many calling for a total ban.
On Facebook one reader said: “It’s horrible walking into the hospital breathing in someone’s second hand smoke.”
Tobacco is the single biggest cause of premature death in England, costing the NHS an estimated £2 billion every year and another £1.1 billion in social care, according to PHE.
Around seven million adults in England smoke and for every death caused by smoking there are around 20 suffering from diseases.
Do you agree with the call for a smoking ban? Share your views on our poll: https://www.playbuzz.com/garywelford10/poll-should-smoking-be-banned-in-all-nhs-buildings-and-grounds
WHAT YOU SAY
Here is what some Echo readers had to say on imposing a smoking ban:
Anthony Robson said: “There are a few smoking shelters yet no one seems to use them. “Instead you get a congregation of smokers right by the doors where non-smokers - including children - have to walk past.
Kelly Fairs added: “I’m pretty anti-smoking, but I think there should be some designated areas or shelters in the grounds which are not next to the doors.
“Hospitals can be very stressful and sad places, so I think making people leave the grounds is a bit harsh.”
Marty Patterson commented: “Patients should be stopped.
“If they are well enough to go for a cigarette, then they are well enough to go home!
“They are taking germs back into the hospital after they have been outside.
“Maybe shelters for visitors.”
Rosy Mann said: “I think it’s a good thing in a way, as we had to walk through a cloud of smoke to get to my sister after having her baby.
“That’s pretty disgusting, but designated areas would be better - as long as people stuck to that.”
Joanne Gunn added: “I think it’s a good thing. “People don’t use smoking shelters and stand outside main doors so have to walk through cloud of smoke to get in main entrance.
“I don’t smoke myself, so why should I have to inhale other peoples stench?” Julie Graham said: “It’s horrible walking into the hospital breathing in someone’s second hand smoke when your feeling ill. “Maybe a designated area away from the main entrance might be the answer.”