Wednesday, September 26, 2012


There is a gazebo outside the hospital front-entrance for patients and visitors who wish to smoke.

Patient Information Book
Beaumont Hospital
A reasonable enough policy you might think. You can't smoke inside the hospital or directly outside the front entrance, but the hospital has made provision for those, who, for one reason or another, remain smokers - the gazebo.

There is no doubt that smoking is an addiction, and one fostered by the cigarette manufacturers. Marlboro, for instance, contains ammonia, which allows the nicotene to breach the brain barrier, gives you a bigger buzz and makes you more addicted.

There is probably very little, if any excuse for young people smoking these days. The toxic effects are well documented. But there was a time when starting to smoke was a rite of passage. While the toxic effects were known to the cigarette companies, they concealed them and carried on killing people. So there are still lots of people around who innocently embarked on a smoking career.

There is force in the argument that non-smokers should not be afflicted with with smokers' smoke, and there is an indoor ban in force to avoid this. But forcing smokers to quit suddenly can have devastating effects. This is particularly so where the smoker may be in a delicate state of mental health.

Up to some good while ago, this was recognised and special smoking rooms were available in hospitals and elsewhere. When the legislative ban was introduced in 2004 this came to an end and the only refuge for the smoker was outdoors. While this may have led to a lot of unexpected friendships and was only an inconvenience for those on a night on the town, it was a serious problem for many patients in general hospitals. However, because of the rationale and means used to introduce the legislative ban the edict was absolute in those locations to which it applied.

People have had to come to terms with it and the outside smoking area was a salvation for those in a position to avail of it.

Now Beaumont has gone poncey and is "proud to be a smoke-free campus". The PC box is neatly ticked and the management can clap each other on the back and feel the glow from having stamped out the evil weed all over the whole "campus".

But what about the patients? Before this piece of high folly, the visitors at least could slip down to the gazebo for a drag. Now they are supposed to leave the campus. That little operation could consume most of their visiting time. And the patients. The vast majority of them can't leave the campus so it's cold turkey or those little patches that set your heart racing anyway.

This is typically a decision by management in pursuit of PC brownie points. The patients don't really matter in the end. Those of them who are driven to distraction by this latest move can take themselves to the nearest mental hospital. They might be able to smoke there if the local management allow it, but the problem will no longer be Beaumont's in any event.

The sign below says it all. They are proud and that's all that counts. Mind you, there was a lot of open defiance around the grounds (sorry, "campus"),much of it elderly people in wheelchairs - puffing away, unchallenged.

It reminds me of a sign I saw long ago in Wales. "Keep Wales tidy, dump you rubbish in England". I thought it was funny then, now I'm not so sure.


me said...

Well said.
I'm a smoker, and wouldn't dream of trying to make an argument for my second hand smoke to be forced on others -- especially people already sick and in hospital.
BUT, everyone knows that giving up smoking is difficult. What if an otherwise healthy individual smashes an ankle and finds him or herself hospitalised and needing an operation (to put in screws, say, like you had yourself)? Is he supposed to go 'cold turkey' while in hospital? At the very least, keeping the 'smoking gazebo' would allow such an invidivual to get down there in a wheelchair to have a few "drags". But better still, would be the old-style smoking room - equipped with two large extraction fans, or whatever it would take to keep the smoke travelling outwards. I'm trying to imagine a decades-long smoker facing some serious surgery, and being nervous about it, and being forced to quit cigarettes at the same time. It's just cruel, in my book.

Póló said...

Just for the record, I should add that I am a non smoker myself. I tried hard to smoke as a youngster but just didn't take to it.

I hate cigarettes for all sorts of reasons and am betimes a heavy passive smoker, but I do think we should deal with things as they are and be fair to everyone, rather than pursuing s fundamentalist dream, denying the past, and screwing up a lot of people.

So there.

Anonymous said...

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