Smoke free hospitals

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7396.941 (Published 03 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:941

An achievable objective bringing benefits for patients and staff

  1. Martin McKee, professor of European public health ([email protected]),
  2. Anna Gilmore, research fellow ([email protected]),
  3. Thomas E Novotny ([email protected]), director, international programs
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  2. UCSF School of Medicine, 74 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco CA-94105, USA

    The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast has often been in the media spotlight, attracting praise for the way it responded to three decades of intercommunal violence in Northern Ireland. Some recent news coverage was not, however, quite so positive. The hospital is nearing completion of a major new building development, and the BBC revealed how the hospital's management had decided to establish seven smoking rooms for patients and staff in it at a cost of £500 000 ($787 000; €723 000).1 The decision immediately provoked condemnation from many sources. Dr Joe Hendron, a member of the Northern Ireland assembly and also a local general practitioner, argued that the move sent out the wrong signal at a time when health services should be encouraging people to stop smoking and Andrew Dougal, of the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart, and Stroke Association condemned the “abject failure” of the hospital to persuade people to quit smoking. Hospital managers have, however, stuck to their decision, arguing that they are simply accepting reality as staff and patients “don't leave their cigarettes and matches at home when they come here.”

    The hospital's decision contrasts with the growing frequency of total bans …

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