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Hospital smoking ban sparks outcry

Smoking outside Gympie Public Hospital. Photo: Greg Miller / Gympie Times
Smoking outside Gympie Public Hospital. Photo: Greg Miller / Gympie Times Greg Miller

SMOKERS will soon need to keep five metres away from Gympie Hospital grounds if they want to light up.

From January 1, Gympie Hospital, in line with all Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service facilities, will ban smoking.

The legislation to enforce the smoke-free move was passed in Queensland Parliament last month.

The new legislation requires all private and public hospitals and health services across the state to no longer allow smoking on premises, including that of e-cigarettes.

What's more, anyone who does wish to smoke will need to do so at least five metres from hospital or health service grounds.

Executive Director Clinical Services, SCHHS, Kerrie Hayes said the legislation would be enforced by environmental health officers and health service authorised persons (such as security guards and some other staff) and local government officers, who have the power to issue on-the-spot fines.

She said the enforcement officers would have authority to issue fines, provide smokers with a warning or ask them to stop or move outside the five meter buffer.

This means patients, staff and visitors of Gympie Hospital will likely need to cross the road to vacate the buffer zone and avoid a fine if they want a smoke.

The news of the impending rules has already gotten up the nose of many of the region's smokers, and non-smokers, some of whom say requiring smokers to be so far away from hospital facilities was too big an ask.

While others welcomed the push to make the hospital a smoke-free zone.

Either way a Gympie Times Facebook question about the issue raised more than 120 comments in less than 24 hours, showing the topic was a controversial one.

Ms Hayes said the new legislation reinforced the message that hospitals were places that not only provided but promoted health care.

"The new laws will support the health and well-being of patients, the public and our staff by ensuring our facilities are smoke free," Ms Hayes said. She said patients who smoked and were admitted to SCHHS hospitals or facilities would be offered the use of free nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum.

Topics:  gympie health hospital smoking

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