Ash Wednesday won’t mark just the start of Lent - but the end of smoking on all HSE grounds in the midlands.
From that date it will no longer be possible to smoke anywhere on HSE property, for example in entrances, doorways, walkways, internal roads, car parks, cars, bicycle shelters etc.
It’s because, explains Dr Johanna Joyce, Principal Medical Officer, HSE Midlands, “smoking is the single biggest cause of ill-health and death in our society; the single biggest cause of cancer and chronic chest diseases, and a significant cause of cardiovascular disease and exacerbation of diabetes.”
“This major cause of illness, chronic disability and death, is preventable, yet accounts for some 5,500 deaths in Ireland each year. Most smokers want to quit and most also would prefer that they never started smoking in the first place.”
The HSE has set a target of introducing a Smoke Free Campus Policy to all health campuses by 2015, says Fergal Fox, Health Promotion Manager.
“The HSE has also developed a QUIT campaign to provide supports for people who want to quit smoking. We will be supporting patients who want to quit smoking and we will be offering smoking cessation advice and support to patients to help them quit smoking or to manage their addiction during their hospital stay.
“Quitting smoking reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease. Within 20 minutes of quitting your circulation will improve and your heart rate and blood pressure will get lower.”
Joseph Ruane, Midlands Area Manager says, “We realise that the introduction of a Smoke Free Campus policy will take time to implement fully but the experience of the other areas and hospitals, who have introduced this policy, has been very positive and we believe that the majority of people will support the implementation of the new policy.”
He said that the HSE will be assisting its staff and patients to quit smoking:
“Addicted smokers will be identified, assessed and treated appropriately. Risk assessment will guide the management of addicted smokers of all ages. This will be done on a case by case basis and reviewed regularly. I wish to emphasise that all clients will be treated in a compassionate way in the implementation of this policy.”
The HSE is committed to supporting people in abstaining from smoking during working hours and if they so choose to support them with smoking cessation.
Visit your local GP for support and advice on smoking cessation. Clinics are available for help and support throughout the Midlands Area. For further information Freephone: 1800 242 505. These clinics are free and confidential.
Alternatively speak to your local pharmacist who can offer support and advice. Alternatively call the National Smokers Quitline: 1850 201 203. Visit www.quit.ie and sign up to a quit plan, access contact details for smoking cessation services where you live or join www.facebook.com/HSEquit.
Dr. Phil Jennings, Director of Public Health stated: “Stopping smoking, at any age, is the single most important thing a person can do to improve their health. We are very pleased to be able to implement a smoke free campus policy that helps to provide an environment that is supportive of anyone trying to quit smoking. I would encourage staff, patients and the general public to take this opportunity to think about quitting and use the resources on offer from the HSE to help them to stop smoking.”
Midlands Smoke Free Campuses initiative