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Buzz Off Smokers

University Hospital of Wales installs a big red buzzer to warn smokers to stop. It commits itself to support vaping.

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The University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff has installed a “Big Red Buzzer” for people to press if they see anybody smoking. Multiple attempts to contact UHW reveal that vaping is allowed on the hospital grounds.

If someone is seen smoking outside UHW Cardiff, staff or members of the public can press the “Big Red Buzzer”. After being pressed, a recording of a child asking the smoker to stub out the cigarette is played over a PA speaker system.

Staff working at the women’s unit had previously voiced concerns over the volume of patients and visitors smoking nearby, with the cigarette smoke entering through open windows.

A spokesperson said: When people smoke on hospital sites patients are forced to breathe in toxic second-hand smoke – including some of our most vulnerable. Sometimes patients have to walk through second-hand smoke to get in and out of the hospital.”

"To address this we recently installed a loudspeaker system outside our women's unit. Four stop smoking messages recorded by children are played in English and Welsh in order to make people think twice about the harm their smoke is causing to others."

"In its first 10 days the button has been pressed over 200 times and staff have noticed a dramatic improvement outside the unit.”

Concerned about whether vapers were going to be effected by the buzzer, POTV contacted UHW multiple times. The press office declined to comment.

Calling the main switchboard, asking if people could vape instead, the first reply was: “No. Nothing at all.” A second switchboard operator (who vaped) said it was allowed.

Staff training is being offered by UHW on the “Making Every Contact Count” program – “The training will provide you with the confidence and skills to discuss smoking informally with smokers on hospital grounds”.

Finally, Public Health Wales provided a definitive answer: “The Cardiff and Vale University Health Board current ‘No smoking and smoke free environment policy’ prohibits the use of e cigarettes inside buildings. The use of E cigarettes is permitted outside on hospital grounds.”

“The Public Health Wales Act (2017) will become law later this year. This will make it illegal to smoke cigarettes on hospital grounds. The use of E cigarettes will continue to be permitted.”

“Staff are encouraged to ask patients if they smoke and refer them to stop smoking services if they are motivated to quit. They can refer to the hospital in house smoking cessation service or signpost/refer to the NHS stop smoking service ‘Help Me Quit’. In patients can access Nicotine replacement products to make them comfortable during their stay.”

The advice on vaping from Public Health Wales remains lukewarm when compared to that from Public Health England, it still supports the idea of a ban in public spaces and say that flavours can motivate children to take up vaping.

Do you think it’s acceptable to play recorded messages at smokers on hospital grounds?



Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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