BGH car parks last refuge of smokers in NHS Borders tobacco clampdown

Dr. Eric Baijal.
Dr. Eric Baijal.

HEALth chiefs in the Borders are to extend the ban on smoking to all its grounds and car parks from New Year’s Day.

They say the aim of revising their tobacco policy is to “maximise health improvement” for staff, patients and visitors, and the only exceptions to the no-smoking rule will be six car parks at the Borders General Hospital because of the “unique size” of its grounds.

People will still be allowed to smoke as they leave their cars in these car parks, but not once on pedestrian walkways.

Smoking in enclosed public spaces such as hospital premises has been banned in Scotland since 2006.

NHS Borders’ joint director of public health, Dr Eric Baijal, says tobacco smoking is the single largest preventable cause of ill health and death in Scotland, and that the Borders’ health authority is committed to promoting healthy living and non-smoking as its normal culture. “We are doing this by ensuring a smoke-free environment, and offering support to those who want to give up. This policy aims to protect not only our staff, but anyone who uses our premises,” he said this week.

No smoking will become the norm in all locations with a few exceptions, which are fully described in the policy. All staff, patients and visitors are now prohibited from smoking on all NHS Borders sites, including grounds and car parks as well as inside the buildings.

Chief executive Calum Campbell added: “As a healthcare provider, it is important that NHS Borders is seen by the community as leading the way in spreading the health improvement message regarding lifestyle choices; it is right and proper that we discourage smoking and enable and support our community in improving their health. Our long-term aim has always been to achieve a completely smoke-free environment and this is one more important step towards achieving this.

“With the exception of the BGH car parks, anyone smoking on our premises should expect to be asked to stop. In this situation, we would ask people to comply with the request to put the cigarette out or move to an area outside the grounds, and respect the fact that staff are only trying to promote our health improvement message.”

“Our mental health in-patients’ units have made a significant step forward by agreeing with stakeholders that smoking will be allowed within external designated areas only.

“Our Borders community, staff and patients who smoke will continue to be offered help to quit.”

The NHS Borders tobacco policy will cover all health service premises in the region. It applies to all staff, regardless of staff group or designation, to patients, including outpatients, day cases, inpatients and long-stay patients, visitors and the wider NHS community – that is, contractors, students, voluntary staff, Scottish Borders Council, other healthcare partners and anyone whose work, study or personal circumstances brings them into contact with NHS Borders.

Smoking is not permitted by any persons including staff, patients, visitors and healthcare partners within the buildings of the NHS in the Borders; within the grounds and car parks including vehicles parked within NHS Borders grounds (it is permitted within BGH car parks 1-6 only); or in any NHS Borders owned/pool vehicles.

In some exceptional circumstances, NHS Borders says it will support clinical staff in making the decision to allow a patient to smoke in the grounds on a temporary basis.

Under the Public Health (the Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises) Scotland Regulations 2006, failure to comply with the law is a criminal offence with a fixed penalty of £50 for smoking in any no-smoking premises.