Published: 00:01, 22 August 2017
Darent Valley Hospital has defended its decision to ban smoking from the site.
Earlier this month KentOnline's sister papers - the Gravesend and Dartford Messengers - revealed Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust’s plan to make the hospital a smoke-free zone – including vaping – from Monday, October 2, including scrapping its smoking shelter.
But while many have come out in support of the new rules, others took to social media to defend people’s right to smoke and vape.
In an interview with KentOnline's sister radio station kmfm, trust chief executive Susan Acott said the ban was not being brought in “to be awkward” and that the hospital simply wanted to discourage smoking and help people break the habit.
“I am hoping that most people will understand why we are doing it and will be reasonable about it, and will walk further away from the hospital or wait until they get in their cars,” she said.
“I suspect we will get very positive feedback from the visitors who really object to walking through smoke on the way to the hospital.
“We are all used to going on a plane and nobody smokes on planes anymore, so I think that for the period that people are here they will be able to comply with the request.”
Since then the hospital has moved to reassure those who raised concerns about the ban, specifically regarding patients who choose to light up.
Those who smoke through a long-standing habit or addiction will be offered nicotine replacements and access to ongoing support given by the NHS Stop Smoking service.
A spokesman for the hospital added: “To make the smoking ban effective and offer visitors a healthier, cleaner and safer place to come, public support is essential.
“We accept that the ban will not be popular with everyone and it is not our intention to infringe on anyone’s liberty, but as a hospital we have a duty to promote good health and protect people from avoidable harm when they are on the premises."
They added: “After the October 2 deadline, the site will be patrolled by officers to advise visitors to stop smoking and direct them to the NHS Stop Smoking Service.
“Persistent offenders could be issued with a warning that may restrict their access to the hospital.
“Staff will signpost patients to relevant services if they do wish to quit.”
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