Moves to Stop Smokers Lighting Up Around Hospitals

Smokers who light up in the grounds of NHS Forth Valley hospitals are now being approached by a newly-appointed Tobacco Control Officer Gregor McFarlane and urged to stub it out The move is in support of a bid by the Scottish Government to make hospital grounds smoke free by 2015, and Mr McFarlane will use the opportunity to signpost people to local smoking cessation services.

Mr McFarlane’s appointment follows complaints by patients, visitors and staff that areas, particularly around the main hospital entrance at ForthValleyRoyalHospital and the doors of the women and children’s and mental health units, are being polluted by people smoking and the ground is littered with cigarette butts

NHS Forth Valley Senior Health Promotion Officer Shirley Hamilton said: “We carried out a survey of around 500 people including staff which revealed that most of them felt hospitals are places where health is expected to improve and lighting up outside wards or hospital entrances is simply not acceptable.

“It is also important that we try to protect the next generation from starting to smoke and give them the best start in life. We hope that using our tobacco control officer to let people know about services to help them quit will reduce the number of tobacco-related illnesses across ForthValley.”

NHSForthValley’s Director of Public Health Dr Graham Foster added: “This ban will not only apply to outside areas, but will also mean that people cannot sit in their cars on hospital grounds, and smoke. Patients and visitors have told us the last thing they need is when they are ill or visiting relatives is to be met by a fug of smoke. Clear notices are displayed throughout our grounds asking people not to light up on NHS premises. Sadly these have not always been respected.”

Although most of his duties will be concentrated at the acute hospital at Larbert, Mr McFarlane will also cover the grounds of Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre, and Stirling and FalkirkCommunityHospitals. He said initial feedback had been mainly positive.

“Most people have been aware of why I have been asking them to put their cigarettes out. They have reacted favourably to the suggestion that stopping smoking will improve their health. I hope that many of them will take the advice I have offered and seek assistance to quit. This will not only be for their benefit, but also for all patients, staff and visitors.”

It’s estimated that around 60,000 adults in ForthValley are smokers. The highest prevalence is in the 25-34 age group although 4% of l3 year olds and 12% of l5 year olds are regular smokers, smoking one or more cigarettes per week.

Figures prove that people are more likely to stop smoking for at least a month if they use a combination of stop smoking services and products, rather than going it alone. The Health Promotion team say that e-cigarettes will be subject to the same controls as the jury is still out on whether they cause the same ill effects as tobacco.