Birmingham & Black Country

Hospital trust to fine and discipline smokers

Generic image of smoker Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A third of acute trusts are yet to go smoke-free, says Public Health England

A hospital will fine smokers and discipline workers caught smoking as a new ban comes in to force.

Staff will face formal action if caught smoking three times at Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals.

Enforcement officers can issue a £50 penalty to any visitors ignoring the rules but vaping will continue to be allowed.

Public Health England has said all trusts should go smoke-free, but a third are yet to set a date.

The smoke-free policy has been introduced as "a public health necessity" because "smoking kills," said Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

"Given that simple truth we can no longer support smoking on our sites, even in shelters or cars," said medical director Dr David Carruthers.

The trust is encouraging smokers to seek alternatives and patients will be offered nicotine replacement products.

Two vaping shops will open at City and Sandwell hospitals and a small number of smoking shelters will remain for vapers.

Image caption The ban will be enforced by wardens patrolling outdoor areas and parked cars at sites including Birmingham City Hospital

Public Health England (PHE) defines smoke-free trusts as those that provide evidence-based support for smokers to quit and prohibit smoking anywhere on the premises.

Whilst smoking has been prohibited on some hospital grounds for years, the PHE survey in May found more than forty acute hospital trusts did not ban it completely.

Nigel Smith from PHE West Midlands said the NHS had a "pivotal role" to ensure smoking was "not allowed anywhere on its premises."

"We congratulate all those Trusts who have gone or are working towards going smoke-free and urge all those who haven't yet to set a date," he added.

NHS England said University Hospitals Birmingham and the Royal Wolverhampton were among the trusts yet to prohibit all smoking.

Smoking was banned in enclosed public places and workplaces in Scotland in 2006 and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2007.

NHS plans include a commitment for all trusts to have fully smoke-free sites by spring 2020.

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