From today, Health and Social Care (HSC) sites across Northern Ireland will go smoke free.
The move coincides with No Smoking Day, and means that smoking will not be allowed by staff, patients, contractors or visitors on any HSC premises.
This major step by the Health and Social Care system is leading the way, helping to change the culture and highlight where smoking is unacceptable.
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the Public Health Agency (PHA), said: “One in every two people who smoke will die from their habit, and stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health.
“The health service exists to improve people’s health and wellbeing, so it makes perfect sense that the sites on which healthcare is delivered are smoke free.
“The aim of going smoke free is to provide a healthier environment for everyone who uses health and social care premises, whether they are giving care or receiving it.
“This will contribute to tackling the harmful effects of smoking on people’s health. One third of cancer deaths, and a significant proportion of coronary heart disease, strokes and circulatory illnesses are caused by smoking. This not only has a human toll on smokers and their families, but also places a massive financial burden on the health service in treating preventable smoking-related conditions.”
Mary Black explained that the introduction of smoke free is being complemented by an extensive network of support for people who want to stop smoking.
“For many people, stopping smoking isn’t easy, but help is at hand. There is a wide range of services available to support people who want to quit, and to assist those in hospital who need to tackle their nicotine cravings.
“We hope that patients, visitors and staff will use smoke free as a catalyst to encourage their own quit attempt. For more information on support that is available, visit the PHA’s Want 2 Stop website at www.want2stop.info.
“By creating smoke free environments, supported by stop smoking services, we hope we can take a big step forward in empowering people to quit their habit and live healthier lives.”