YEOVIL NEWS: Hospital strengthens its smoke free policy
YEOVIL District Hospital is taking a tougher stance on smoking across its site in a bid to protect the health of patients, visitors and staff.
A new ‘smoke-free’ policy came into place on September 1, 2017, offering enhanced on-site support for those wishing to quit and tougher consequences for those in breach of the smoke-free status.
Despite declines in smoking prevalence over recent decades, 12.3 per cent of adults in South Somerset still smoke and it remains the single largest cause of health inequalities and premature death. For every death caused by smoking, approximately 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease.
The new policy has a stronger emphasis on supporting smokers to manage their cravings and will see a greater presence of smoke-free advisers in the hospital, supporting patients from the moment they are admitted. It is hoped that by intervening at this optimum time, combined with continued support, the hospital will give patients a greater chance of success in breaking the addiction.
At the same time, hospital security will be stepping up their approach to tackling smokers and those responsible for smoking litter – this includes working with the council to enable them to fine those seen dropping cigarette ends.
Dr Tim Scull, Yeovil Hospital’s medical director, said: “As a hospital it’s essential that we set a responsible example to our community and protect the health of patients, visitors and staff. We simply cannot justify allowing people to smoke on our site, particularly in areas which create a second-hand smoke hazard to others - at best it’s an unpleasant inconvenience; at worst it can be distressing and dangerous.
“Our message is simple; if you are coming to Yeovil Hospital, as a patient or a visitor, you will not be able to smoke anywhere on hospital grounds. If you choose to smoke, you will be asked to move off site. We will also do our best to signpost you to available quitting support.
“We know that quitting isn’t easy, but by being clear on our zero tolerance approach and by directing people to support which is available within the hospital and in the community, we can certainly help people to address their addiction.”
As well as protecting people’s health, the hospital also wants to address the problem of smoking litter – a problem which costs the hospital hundreds of pounds to clean up every month, and which causes a real nuisance to local residents.
Working with the council, the hospital has placed two discreet smoking bins off-site and away from pedestrian entrances and exits. It has also pledged to help council enforcement officers to fine those seen dropping smoking litter.
Dr Scull added: “Every penny we spend on the daily task of clearing up smoking litter is money we could be spending on treating patients. If you do want to smoke when visiting us, all we ask is that you take a few additional steps away from the hospital entrances and exits to the off-site smoking bins. A member of staff will be happy to direct you.
“Every day in our hospital, we are treating people who are battling against the often devastating effects of smoking. The launch of our new smoke-free policy represents the start of a renewed, stronger commitment to help prevent smoking-related illnesses before they occur by making Yeovil Hospital truly ‘smoke-free’. We hope local people will support us and help make this a success.”
For more information and support to quit visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree .
PHOTO – TOP: Dr Tim Scull, Yeovil Hospital’s medical director.