Mullingar councillors are to write to the HSE to ask them to allocate a designated smoking area on the grounds of Mullingar hospital, following the introduction of a a campus-wide ban on November 1.
Cllr Detty Dornally said that because people have to leave the hospital grounds to smoke, the entrance to the grounds has become badly littered with cigarette butts.
The issue came to her attention recently when she was visiting a patient who asked her to bring them outside for a smoke.
“Firstly, I couldn’t get the wheelchair up on the path. Secondly, the entrance to the hospital is absolutely filthy with cigarettes thrown on the footpath and over the wall. I agreed with moving the smoking area from the door as it was filthy looking for visitors, but I think we should write and ask to have a place for smokers that is not in the eyes of the public.
“For some patients, all they have is their cigarettes, they started at a young age and they’re not going to give up now. I’m sure it’s the case for some staff too,” she added.
There was support from Cllr Mick Dollard, who said he had feared that the smoking ban would force people out onto the main road to smoke.
“This was my fear, that patients and visitors would be out on the main thoroughfare smoking. People are taking their lives in their hands, they could be knocked down by a car.
“The HSE seem to think that people smoking all their lives are just going to give up. Smoking is harder to quit than hard drugs. We have to have a pragamatic approach and provide a designated smoking area to the rear of the hospital,” he said.