COLUMN: Why there shouldn’t be a complete smoking ban at Chesterfield Royal Hospital

A smoker lights up.
A smoker lights up.

As reported last week, smokers could be banned from lighting up outside Chesterfield Royal Hospital under controversial plans. Here, Simon Clark, of pro-smoking pressure group Forest, says why he thinks the ban is a bad idea...

A ban on smoking across the entire site at Chesterfield Royal Hospital will send quite the wrong message about our ‘caring’ NHS.

There’s nothing caring about ordering people to walk several hundred yards before they can light up. It could be dark, late at night or raining. It will almost certainly be next to a busy main road. Why treat anyone like that?

It may not look good if people are smoking on hospital grounds but is enforcing a smoking ban really a priority for over-stretched hospital resources?

According to a recent national poll tackling smoking was considered the lowest in a list of priorities for the NHS, behind even obesity and alcohol issues. The most important issues were investing in new doctors and nurses, addressing response times at A&E and improving general waiting times.

Managers say the NHS spends £2.7bn a year treating smoking-related health problems. Well, I’ve got news for them. Smokers contribute more than £10bn annually through tobacco taxation. If you contribute that amount to public funds you don’t deserve to be treated in such a cold-hearted manner.

Behind this policy is a degree of bullying that is unacceptable in a tolerant society. People are no longer educated about the health risks of smoking. Today they are patronised, insulted and made to feel like lepers.

The public health industry is engaged in a campaign of creeping prohibition. Banning smoking in the open air, even on hospital grounds, is a step too far.

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OTHER VIEW: Why there should be a complete smoking ban at Chesterfield Royal Hospital