Northern Trust urges public to follow smoke free rules at its hospital sites
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Hospitals across Northern Ireland became smoke free in 2016, but smokers continue to light up within the hospital grounds, often outside main entrances.
Northern Trust Executive medical director Dr Dave Watkins said: “We want to remind members of the public, as well as our own staff, that we operate a smoke free policy across all our sites. This means that smoking or vaping is not permitted. We want everyone visiting our hospitals and community buildings to enjoy a smoke free environment.
“We recognise that smoking is a difficult habit to break and we want to support anyone interested in quitting; but we do not want people who are attending hospital, some of whom are very sick and clinically vulnerable, to have to walk through clouds of smoke.
“We would encourage people to show consideration to others and also to seek help to quit the habit. We all know the dangers of smoking; the risks to our health are well documented, and there is plenty of support available locally to help people stop smoking. We also offer support to staff to help them kick the habit.”
A recent report published by the NI Audit Office found that around 15% of deaths (2,200) in Northern Ireland can be attributed to smoking each year, and around 35,000 admissions to hospital are smoking-related. In addition, a person smoking 20 cigarettes a day pays out over £4,600 each year on their habit.
Dr Watkins added: “Apart from the obvious risk to health, it is really unpleasant for visitors to be greeted by dozens of discarded cigarette butts outside hospital entrances. We would also remind people that the bus shelter located on our Antrim site should not be used as a smoking shelter as this is in breach of the smoke-free legislation.”
Many local pharmacies offer help and support to quit smoking. You can find your nearest pharmacy on the Stop Smoking NI website www.stopsmokingni.info along with information and resources for those wanting to stop smoking.