Friday, 1 October 2010

Royal Oldham row about shelters

The Royal Oldham hospital is reluctantly conceding that it has a problem with smoking on site since its 2006 ban, but some trust bosses would rather spend £80k on smoking cessation treatments than allow a shelter to be built that might cater for smokers and give them an alternative to doorway smoking.

If it comes to wasting money I agree that these trust bosses have a point about the shelters. It would be far more effective to set aside ventilated indoor areas for smoking in, than build a shelter that is out of sight of the main building and inconvenient for people to use. Provide somewhere sheltered, comfortable and pleasant (with an option of coffee facilities) and people will use it without the need for persuasion.

The drawback: the nation's so-called tobacco addicts would thereby get confused and think they are being given a green light to smoke. That would be terrible: one couldn't run the risk of (possibly bereaved) smokers thinking they had any right to experience true hospitality in a public place. It would send out entirely the wrong message.

The best we can hope for in the current hostile climate is that the trust will permit a shelter to be built. A poster summarises the situation well in the Kent Medway hospital story:
The sound of grief and sobbing from an old person, or parents who have lost a child, is still hard to take. Would you make them walk half a mile so you couldn't get a whiff of their smoke? After all, this second hand smoke doesn't actually harm you, y'know.

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