Smoking ban on grounds of hospital

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Smoking on the grounds of Lagan Valley Hospital, like any other hospital in Northern Ireland, will be banned from next month.

It means staff patients and visitors will no longer be allowed to smoke at the entrance of buildings, in car parks or even inside cars on trust premises from March 9.

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said it was a welcome move.

He warned that one in every two smokers would die from their habit.

“Smoking not only has a human cost,” he said. “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 making this move, we hope to both protect people’s health directly and to influence cultural change by creating new norms around smoking in public.

“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.”

Dr McBride was speaking as a smoking shelter outside the regional Cancer Centre in Belfast was demolished to make way for a bike dock - marking one month to go before the ban is introduced.

“By going smoke free, the health service is taking a big step forward in tackling smoking head-on.”

The Western Health and Social Care Trust, which runs Altnagelvin and Daisy Hill hospitals, introduced a smoke free policy last year.

It will be rolled out to the other health authorities to coincide with No Smoking Day.