Proposed smoking ban at hospital entrances prompts policing query

A REGULAR visitor at the Ballarat Base Hospital has questioned how the health service would police a non-smoking ban outside its public entrances. 

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On Monday the state government revealed plans to amend the Tobacco Act, banning smoking outside public hospital entrances s to protect people from second-hand smoke. 

Steven Ezzy, whose daughter suffers from pancreatitis, described taking his daughter out for some air at the hospital as “running the gauntlet”.  

“My biggest grievance is the fact that it’s unavoidable. You can’t go out the front door without breathing in smoke,” he said. 

Despite the proposed change, Mr Ezzy said hospital staff would be too busy with patients to worry about people having a smoke.

“Prohibition never works, not since the 1920s (blanket alcohol ban) in America,” he said. 

“I would imagine it would be easier to have a conciliatory approach by putting in a (smoking) shelter away from the doors.”

Mr Ezzy said his daughter, whose disease make her feel nauseous, was “frustrated” with the set-up.

“The issue is they (smokers) are not prepared to go any further than three or four metres. 

“They just literally stand in the door,” he said. 

Base Hospital patient Danny Begg said it wasn’t fair smokers didn’t have a designated area.

“A lot of patients get a lot of bad news in there and a lot of time that (smoking) is their way of dealing with it,” he said.

“To go out and have a smoke takes the stress off things.

“They don’t want you to smoke but there’s ashtrays and butt bins in areas where smokers go.”

Ballarat Health Services chief executive officer Andrew Rowe said there was no plan for a designated smoking area at hospital. 

Mr Rowe said BHS would await details of any new laws to determine an appropriate policing strategy, however he said smokers would need to observe the rights of non-smokers. 

william.vallely@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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