Galway hospitals become smoke-free zones

From yesterday, Galway University Hospitals (GUH ) has introduced a smoke free campus policy on National No Smoking Day which means that patients and visitors will no longer be allowed to smoke in areas near the entrance and must leave the grounds to do so.

The new rules prohibit smoking on the hospital grounds, for example entrances, doorways, walkways, internal roads, bus shelters, car parks, cars, bicycle shelters, etc. This policy will apply to the Merlin Park University Hospital and the University Hospital Galway sites.

As a leading healthcare provide, GUH is committed to reducing the use of tobacco and its harmful health effects. GUH aims to create a healthier, smoke free, clean environment for its patients, staff, and visitors in line with GUH’s status as a health promoting hospital, a smoke-free hospital and its designation as one of the eight regional cancer centres in Ireland.

The policy will apply to all staff, patients, visitors, contractors, and anyone who enters the hospital buildings/grounds.

Dr Paul Donnellan, consultant medical oncologist, GUH says: “Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer death in men and women. In fact lung cancer kills more people than do the next three common cancers combined. Yet lung cancer is almost entirely preventable.

“About 1,650 people in Ireland die from lung cancer every year. Smoking cigarettes is by far the biggest risk factor and is responsible for 90 percent of cases. There are over 4,000 chemicals in every cigarette and at least 55 are known to cause cancer.”

“The risk of developing lung cancer is also dose dependent. For example, if you smoke just one cigarette a day, you are three times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker. However if you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, you are 20 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker.

“Even if you do not smoke, frequent exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke, so called ‘passive smoking’ but what I prefer to call ‘involuntarily inhaled second-hand smoke’ can increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Research has found that non-smoking women who share their house with a smoking partner are 27 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smoking women who live with a non-smoking partner.

“The HSE has set a target of introducing a smoke free campus policy to all health campuses by 2015 and we are introducing this policy in GUH on Wednesday. The HSE has also developed a QUIT campaign to provide supports for people who want to quit smoking. In GUH we will be supporting patients to help them quit smoking or to manage their addiction during their hospital stay.”

Dr Donnellan concluded: “I urge all doctors and allied health care workers to support the smoke-free campus initiative and join with us in sending a clear, strong, and unambiguous anti-smoking message.”

Tony Canavan, chief operating officer of the Galway, Roscommon Hospital Group says,: “The smoke free campus policy will lead to a better health outcome for patients by treating tobacco addiction as a care issue and we will be actively promoting smoking cessation to support patients to quit.

“The introduction of a smoke free campus policy will take time but the success of this type of policy in other hospitals - St Vincent’s University Hospital, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, and Cork University Hospital - along with the positive feedback from a survey of patients and staff indicates that the majority of people support the policy.”

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