Staff, patients and visitors to Lincolnshire hospitals will no longer be able to smoke on hospital grounds when a new ban comes into place next year.
Smoking is currently permitted within designated areas of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) sites at Lincoln, Boston, Grantham and Louth, but will cease entirely with effect from Monday January 6, 2020.
The move is part of the Trust’s drive to provide a safer environment that promotes health and reduces harm from exposure to second-hand smoke.
It is also in line with The Health Act (2006) and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 2013 guidelines which state that all hospital sites should ideally be 100 per cent smokefree.
Th ehealth trust says patients will be fully supported to abstain from smoking during treatment by being offered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of patches and inhalators and will be offered a referral for ongoing support.
Those who insist on leaving the ward areas to smoke will not be obstructed, but will be advised of the smokefree policy and asked not to smoke within the hospital grounds.
E-cigarettes and vaping will still be permitted within outdoor areas of the Trust as long as it is not done in close proximity to others.
Stephen Kelly, ULHT’s Occupational Health Service Business Manager, said the Trust has a duty to protect and care for the health and wellbeing of its patients, staff and visitors.
“Many of the people who use our services are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of second hand smoke, such as pregnant women, babies, children and those with medical conditions,” said Mr Kelly.
“We recognise that smoking is a personal choice and we do not discriminate against those who choose to do so, however we are a health-promoting organisation and are committed to protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of all employees, patients and visitors.
“Smoking is the leading cause of premature death in the UK. Exposure to second-hand smoke can also cause disease and premature death among non-smokers and even brief exposure can cause immediate harm.
“Being completely smokefree reflects our commitment and responsibility for improving health and wellbeing.”
As part of the planning to go completely smokefree, ULHT undertook a four-month consultation and engagement exercise with members of the public earlier this year, around the implications of introducing a complete smoking ban.
During the feedback, 56 per cent of those asked ‘should ULHT become smokefree’ agreed that it should.
“There is no given right to smoke and no obligation to permit people to smoke. It is part of our duty to improve and the protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, patients and wider communities and this includes ensuring we uphold their right to be protected from second hand smoke,” added Mr Kelly.