Saturday, 5 February 2011

Royal Edinburgh Hospital now a no-go area for smokers

In fulfilment of the ambitions of smoking ban advocates everywhere, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (Edinburgh's psychiatric hospital) banned smoking everywhere on the site at the beginning of 2011, with the exception of two smoking shelters. This involved closing the smoking rooms that marked psychiatric hospitals as exempt premises when the smoking ban was introduced.

The outrage expressed in the article can be understood against the Scottish Government's determination to challenge the exempt status of psychiatric units in respect of the ban, in spite of all the consultation results (read here, and here). Eighty-one per cent of patient groups voted against the ban, and only one-third of respondents voted in favour of the exemption accorded to psychiatric units being removed. This must be weighed against the conviction of health board directors that smoking doesn't relieve stress for patients in psychiatric hospitals.

Apart from the danger of people lighting up covertly, and the inconvenience to staff of having such limited smoking facilities on the hospital premises, there is also the issue (reflected in this report) of a blanket smoking ban resulting in more involuntary admissions and/or people avoiding psychiatric treatment.

Freedom to Choose (Scotland)'s effort to challenge the Scottish Government on this issue was brushed firmly under the carpet. Throughout, the government's intention has been to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of the results of its consultation on smoke-free mental health services and its findings.


Anonymous said...

The voices of MSPs who sought and supported exemptions for Psychiatric Units and Hospitals when the legislation was debated in 2005 should now be raised in protest at the Scottish Governments action.

Will they stand by their "humanitarian principles" or meekly submit to the Tobacco Control Zealots in the Scottish Parliament.


westcoast2 said...

Some of the comments on the Scotsman are shameful. They put anti-smoking ideology before the needs of the patients.

It is also shameful of the Scottish government to ignore thier own consultation. What was the point? What is in it for them?

Some people will now not seek the help they need. This is a tragedy.

Others (Grampian) do recognise the issues, good for them.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Belinda, you note at one point in your article, "Apart from the danger of people lighting up covertly,..."

I would accord that concern far more than an "Apart from..." The fire dangers of "covert smoking" are quite clear from several perspectives:

1) Simply by encouraging an atomosphere of needing to hide while one smokes an administration is clearly going to bring about an increase in unsafe solitary smoking in areas (such as large laundry closets, basements stuffed with flammables, attics, etc) where such smoking would be a particular threat.

2) By imposing such a rule on people who are being held "captive" in the sense that psychiatric patients or even nursing home residents are, any benefits from longer term abstentation clearly disappear: it's fairly universally acknowledged that the greatest facto in an individual's quitting smoking is the individual's DESIRE to quit -- a desire that is obviously not given freedom to work in mandatory situations.

3) Particularly in the cases of psychiatric or very senior inmates, proper sense of responsibility and care in hidden smoking situations is likely to be less than the norm, thereby increasing fire dangers (Plus, if a fire DOES break out, these people are less capable than most in their abilities to respond properly and either pull an alarm or escape a burning building.)

4) Look at the studies.

5) er... WHAT studies??? Yep, as you've probably noticed, in ALL the supposedly thousands of studies out there condemning smoking there's been virtually NOTHING showing how fires are reduced after bans are in place and fire-safety devices (ashtrays) are removed. The one article I found about this topic was at:

and, although it was not an actual study, the article seemed to note an INCREASE rather than a DECREASE in fires.


6th and final point: Those responsible for bans in psychiatric units and nursing homes are obviously aware of all the above and simply don't care. Given that they have such knowledge of the dangers they are putting those under their care into they are CLEARLY heavily legally responsible for the results.

If a fire breaks out in a banned hospital or nursing home, the relatives of injured and deceased victims will have VERY strong grounds for numerous and heavy individual lawsuits against ALL the parties responsible... including perhaps the deep pockets of UK taxpayers themselves through their funding of ASH UK.

Such a thing hasn't happened yet, but unfortunately it almost certainly WILL happen. And the saddest thing is that it could all be avoided by the simple and cheap provision of a few comfortable and inviting indoor smoking areas with some mild exhaust ventilation.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

V said...

"a smoking ban will remove the stigma currently attached to mental health
patients who are currently treated differently in law (6 mentions)"