Tuesday, 1 February 2011

NHS Grampian smoking ban hits rocks

It's a great pleasure to share this story, not least because Freedom to Choose (Scotland) helped to publicise the issues back in the summer. You can review older blog reports on this story here. It seems to have been clear to everyone involved that a complete ban would have been ineffective and resented (see this story, for example).
A hospital spokesman said: “We are still proceeding with the aims and objectives of our existing tobacco policy. The aim is to ensure that all NHS Grampian premises become smoke-free within a very few years but, in moving towards this objective, a limited number of designated smoking areas will be permitted as an interim measure.
“NHS Grampian also remains committed to promoting healthy living and non-smoking as its normal culture. It will do this by establishing a smoke-free environment for all who wish it, while being sensitive to the needs of those who smoke, and offering support to those who wish to give up.”
I wonder how long this interim will be and what the bill for dismantling the smoking shelters will amount to? To an extent I can sympathise with Margaret Watt, of the [non-smoking] Patients' Association at the sheer lunacy of putting up smoking shelters to the tune of £150,000, only to tear them down again (one presumes) when the madness returns 'within a very few years': when they decide again that 'being sensitive to the needs of those who smoke' is against Trust policy.

It may be facile to say it, but none of this expenditure would have been proposed if the smoking ban had not created a huge problem (not to speak of extra costs: read about a PFI contractor charging an extra £2,600 a year for cleaning after removing smoking shelters from a hospital site). I would be interested to know whether a £150,000 shelter will be sufficiently attractive to lure people from doorways. If it's not made attractive enough I would sack the Trustees for wasting money.

The better way would be not to have made the whole hospital a no-smoking zone in the first place. A smoking room here and there, comfortable and inviting (non-smoking lounges also of course) would resolve the problem permanently and much more cheaply. Air can be cleaned.

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