UHB intends to place a total ban on smoking from the start of 2019. Those responsible for the decision have elected to treat vaping as being identical to smoking – and all vape products will also fall under the ban.
UHB justify the move by saying that the decision has been reached following people complaining about smokers near hospital entrances and open windows. There is already a ban in place on smoking in buildings and near doors – but the new prohibition will cover all areas owned by the Trust.
The ban will be enforced by getting administration staff to wander about and politely ask smokers and vapers to stop – and offered advice leaflets on quitting smoking, which won’t be much use to vapers who have already done so.
Neither of the supplied quotes with the press release touched on the action with regards to vaping. Matt Joint, UHB’s “Director of People”, said: "As a healthcare provider we have a role to play in promoting healthy living and offering support to staff and patients who want to give up smoking. As part of this we're committed to going completely smoke free, which is something Public Health England has asked all Trusts to do.”
"We receive regular complaints from patients, visitors, parents of children and staff about people smoking in our entrances or near buildings where windows might be open and as a healthcare provider it's important that we address these issues."
Ros Badman, a respiratory clinical nurse specialist: "Every time you smoke you breath out second hand smoke. Around 85 per cent of second hand smoke is invisible and odourless, yet it can spread through windows, doors and ventilation shafts, harming those inside. We also know that one person smoking will make someone else more likely to light up too."
Last week, Norman Lamb MP stated that there is a “much-needed public debate on how e-cigarettes are dealt with in public spaces. That debate should be informed by the evidence.”
He added: “There is no public health rationale for treating e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes as one and the same. We discovered that a third of mental health NHS trusts ban e-cigarettes within their facilities and three-quarters of NHS trusts are mistakenly concerned about second-hand e-cigarette vapour, despite evidence that it presents a negligible health risk. This is nonsensical and counter-productive.”
UHB’s action is hardly the “risk-proportionate regulation of e-cigarettes” that MPs called for, and is a shameful perpetuation of old, failed approached to tobacco-harm reduction.
At the time of writing, nobody from University Hospitals Bristol was prepared to pass comment on the Trust’s actions in relation to Lamb and the committee’s view that vaping should be treated separately from smoking bans.