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Readers’ panel: Should hospitals employ enforcement officers to ensure compliance with smoking bans – even in parked cars?

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust no longer allows smoking anywhere in its grounds – even parked cars – and enforcement officers can issue a £50 penalty. Vaping is still permitted outdoors. Nursing Standard readers have their say

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust no longer allows smoking anywhere in its grounds – even parked cars – and enforcement officers can issue a £50 penalty. Vaping is still permitted outdoors. Nursing Standard readers have their say


Picture: iStock

Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield 
@danjathey

As a non-smoker and someone who dislikes smoking, I feel measures to tackle smoking are essential. But making an entire site smoke-free is not feasible. People are going to smoke regardless of how many signs are put up and will play cat and mouse with the smoking police. Staff on a 15-minute break don't have time to go all the way off site. A more realistic response would be to manage the situation, with discreetly placed smoking shelters encouraging people to move away from main entrances.


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

Smoking is particularly prevalent among patients under mental health services, who can become aggressive and hostile when prevented from smoking. This can lead to assaults on staff, and employing enforcement officers only adds to the risk of confrontation. This is not a helpful or therapeutic approach. While I don’t agree with smoking and wouldn’t want to encourage it, there should be designated smoking areas; smoking is still legal and if people choose to smoke, they have every right to do so.


Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham
@lizcharalambou

While I agree something must be done to eradicate smoking on hospital premises, this approach seems too heavy-handed. Health education should be informative and collaborative, with health professionals working with the public rather than dictating to them. I would feel uncomfortable asking people to refrain from smoking, especially as I don’t know their circumstances – they may have had a sudden bereavement, for example, and telling them to stop smoking will only make their situation worse.


Stacie May is a nursing student in Plymouth
@14StaciePUNC

Telling a patient, their relative or a staff member they are not allowed to smoke, even in their own car, is worrying. Imagine if a member of staff has had a stressful shift, a patient has had some terrible news or a relative has had to make a life-changing decision? Telling them to put out their cigarette or they will be fined £50 could lead to confrontation, possibly physical aggression, putting both the enforcement officer and the individual at risk. And with the NHS already financially overstretched, I would question how this role is being funded.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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