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Health Minister plans to make hospital grounds smoke-free

March 16, 2015

The announcement by Health Minister Jim Wells of plans to extend the smoking ban at Health Trusts’ properties has been welcomed by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

Minister Wells has pledged that all Trusts should be completely smoke free by March of next year and, in addition to the current no smoking policy in hospitals and health facilities, smoking will not be permitted anywhere on Trust grounds.  This move will abolish designated smoking areas and smoking shelters and will prohibit anyone to smoke in their car if it is within the grounds of the facility.  The rule will apply to staff, patients, clients, visitors and contracted workers.

Medical Director, Dr. John Simpson, is leading the Smoke Free plans in the Southern Trust.

Welcoming the ruling, he said: “

“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 per cent) will be backing us with these plans.”

Acknowledging the plans are “ambitious”, he added: “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 proposals will be tabled at Southern Trust Board meeting on 26th March for approval.

Sinn Fein MLA Mickey Brady voiced his support for the move saying it is welcome news for people attending medical facilities who 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,” he said.

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.

For further information and free support to stop smoking contact the Southern Trust’s Stop Smoking Service Tel: 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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