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Area for smokers created at Tunbridge Wells Hospital - Tell Us What You Think

By Kent and Sussex Courier  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

By Craig Saunders craig.saunders@courier.co.uk

  • THREAT: One of the no smoking signs at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury

  • One of the cigarette bins at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury, in the area design to contain the problem rather than having smokers immediately outside the entrance

  • CONFUSED SIGNALS: Tunbridge Wells Hospital has a designated smoking area

Comments (5)

MILLIONS of pounds a year are spent by the National Health Service trying to encourage people to quit smoking.

The Government invested £2.7 million in its current anti-smoking campaign, which graphically shows a cancerous tumour growing inside a cigarette.

But at the epicentre of health and wellbeing in Tunbridge Wells, the borough's state-of-the-art hospital in Pembury, it is commonplace to see staff, patients and visitors lighting up near the entrance enjoying a cigarette.

Signs dotted around Tunbridge Wells Hospital clearly state it is a "smoke-free" site and warn that those found smoking will be asked to leave.

But the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust now provides cigarette bins in an unofficial smoking area on the grounds in an effort to deter smokers from congregating immediately outside the front doors.

Scroll down to our poll below and tell us what you think

On Monday the Courier spoke to staff, patients and visitors using the area at the hospital in Tonbridge Road to see what they thought about the glaring contradiction of smoking on hospital grounds.

Patient Donna Cooper, 26, who was smoking after taking a break from treatment, said it helped her get out off the ward.

She said: "I do agree with how they do it here. You used to get people congregating outside the main doors but now they have moved it up here. It is far away.

"I do think that staff should not be able to smoke outside because they are going back and treating patients."

The new smoking area overlooks the outdoor car parks, is around 150 yards from the front door and partly covered by a shelter.

Many of the people the Courier spoke to were members of staff who, despite being healthcare professionals, felt they needed to get out of the hospital on their break.

Nurse Charlotte Tapp, 20, said she could understand why some people may have an issue with employees smoking but felt it was important to get off the ward.

She said: "It is nice to come out and get some fresh air. All of our staff areas are in the ward and there is no place outside.

"It is a nice break for us and it can be a break for visitors and patients.

"It is not right to smoke on the main road because it would stop people coming into the hospital."

The NHS trust admitted it was a difficult situation and said the best thing to do was to "manage" the problem because spending funds on policing smokers would take cash away from vital services.

Spokesman Darren Yates said: "We rely on people to respect our no smoking policy and the vast majority do.

"At the same time we try to manage those who do not by keeping them in a single area which we do not actively promote, but can keep clean and away from our main entrances into the hospital.

"We offer our staff and patients information about smoking cessation and are helping reduce the number of smokers who work at or receive care in our hospitals.

"If there's an overwhelming public view that we should spend some of our finite resources for patient care on policing our grounds, that is something we would look at, but we would appeal to people's public mindedness first."

Campaign groups on either side of the smoking debate said they had sympathy with the trust's predicament.

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5 comments

  • a_walker_  |  February 14 2013, 2:26PM

    It is a sensible and pragmatic approach in having a designated smoking area within the hospital grounds. The amount of revenue the government receives from tobacco taxation must more than cover any costs incurred treating ill health attributed through smoking. (86% of smokers do not die from lung cancer). Air pollution cause by vehicle exhaust fumes and Industry must also be reponsible for many respiratory illnesses. If you wanted to kill yourself...sitting in a sealed car smoking 40 cigarettes wouldn't do the trick but a hosepipe from the exhaust certainly would! It would be a good idea if the Courier newspaper obtained from TWBC every 3 months or so readings from the air quality monitor on St Johns Road. The information could be published and compared against what is considered to be safe levels of airborne toxins. A Walker

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  • CUDDLY  |  February 08 2013, 4:24PM

    Working within the NHS is very stressful, staff are pushed to the limit. Nurses are humans too and some obviously like to get out of the building during there break to get away from it all, now a smoking shelter has been provided to get people away from the main entrance of the hospital, to repsect the non - smoker who may be using the main entrance, somehow this has become a topic to discuss on the local media, honestly arent there more important issues out there to focus on? Let the people smoke in a controlled area, its thier health and thier choice to smoke, you dont have to stand there with them. Another point, how can a patient criticise staff who are smoking when she has just admitted to have gone for a smoke as it helps her get off the ward, i dont judge but if you are smoking why are you complaining if a member of staff is taking a legitimate break away from thier respective working area, who are you to dictate to them, selfish ! I agree, the NHS promote no smoking in the interest of health, and yes I am sure that the NHS have thought about this, but smoker will still want to smoke, its against the Law to smoke in doors, however what laws will they impliment against those smoking in the designated smoking area? I support the staff who make use of the smoking shelter, give the NHS staff a break they have so much to deal with on a daily basis, its a form of stress relief too.Have some compasion for those NHS staff, they are doing a fantastic job. Now go find something else to report on, like the traffic situation on North Farm!

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  • suffolkpunch  |  February 08 2013, 4:22PM

    NHS hospitals are public property, owned and paid for by the public. Smoking is not illegal in open public places.

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  • Kent_Resident  |  February 08 2013, 3:10PM

    The poll is unclear in what it asks and I cannot vote. I do believe that smoking shouldn't be tolerated in the hospital premises, but having an area specifically for smokers to go to and away from the entrances can only be a good thing. It would be even better if it was signposted so smokers knew where to go and that they have the choice of using that area or not smoking at all whilst at the hospital.

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  • jgrey  |  February 08 2013, 2:15PM

    Running a rare cancer charity in Southborough I can hardly believe that I just voted yes in this poll, but think about it: smokers will smoke on the hospital site, ban or no ban, but create a specific area for them and it becomes an ideal 'captive audience' marketing arena for 'Give up Smoking' literature.

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