A leading health charity has welcomed a ban on smoking on all hospital grounds across Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke says it will protect people – particularly those with chest illnesses – from having to endure a fog of poisonous cigarette fumes at hospital entrances, where smokers, including patients, often gather.
Fidelma Carter, Director of Public Health at NICHS, said: “We have been campaigning for years to have all hospital premises made smoke free. It never made any sense to us as a health charity that people should be allowed to smoke in places designed for healing, especially those who are being treated there.
“We also had regular complaints from people with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease that when they went for outpatient appointments, they risked exacerbations in their condition by having to breathe in tobacco smoke.”
The Western Trust banned smoking in hospital grounds two years ago. The then Health Minister Jim Wells announced the regional ban on No Smoking Day last year.
Said Fidelma Carter: “We are not supporting the penalising of smokers, but supporting the protection of those people who don’t smoke. We hope this measure will encourage people to take part in smoking cessation programmes. We and the Public Health Agency provide free advice and support.”