Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Basingstoke Gazette / North Hampshire Hospital

Hospital moves to stub out smoking on site

Dear Letters Editor

The article by Lucy Clark announcing the proposed ban on smoking at the North Hampshire Hospital induced in me a feeling of extreme rage. Strange really as I clearly expected the move, knowing full well of the Government's white paper and of the recent Health Improvement bill. Nevertheless as a long time employee of the trust I am absolutely flabbergasted. I am a senior doctor and have worked for 15 years at the Trust. I am very happy there and believe our hospital to be one of the best in the country. Our management staff are of the highest calibre and I have nothing but praise for their efforts.

How preposterous to stop staff, patients and perhaps distressed relatives of patients smoking anywhere on site. This is an inhumane and cynical proposal brought about by pressure from a huge league of prominent anti-smoking groups. These organisations have pedalled propaganda on a par with the Nazi antismoking movement before the second world war. They have saturated the media with untruths and scare mongering at great expense to the tax payer and with the use charitable donations. The tax payers money coming directly out of the Health service purse.
The whole basis for the ban being the notion that environmental tobacco smoke causes harm to non-smokers. This is against the evidence available at present but nevertheless scandalously repeated by reputable bodies such as the NHS, the BMA and the Heart Foundation. These bodies extrapolate fictional numbers of bar workers who might be expected to die if there was a link of the size quoted, scaring the living daylight out of the public. There is no such proven link.

So smoking is bad for your health, what isn't? What is next, stopping doctor's drinking, banning cars. The hope is that the hospital is promoting a better image by stopping people smoking outside the main entrance. I disagree, the hospital is mindlessly jumping on a bandwagon and in so doing trampling over decent people's misfortune at times of enormous stress. Why can't the Trust be innovative and accept that smoking is legal, it does no harm to non-smokers and nearly a third of the country do it? Why marginalize and demonise a large minority of the human population? Why not show a little compassion.

I have no desire to avail myself of the kind assistance to stop be smoking, I enjoy it. That is the token offered to try and appease me with the promise of nicotine replacement therapy stocked in the hospital shop! Its time in my opinion for smokers to stand up and be counted and stop tolerating this attempt at alienation. Smokers don't harm anyone and add to the colour and individuality of our country. Smoking has tradition and history behind it and the United Kingdom should remain the bastion of tolerance and freedom it has always been. Lets leap off that bandwagon, now!

Dr Phil Button
Email gasdoc@eastrop.wanadoo.co.uk
NHS Anaesthetist
Blog www.pro-choicesmokingdoctor.blogspot.com