I wrote this for our District Hospital after lamenting the effects of second hand smoke on me whilst ensconced in Hospital, an edited version made it onto their comunications site as part of n anti smoking campaign Smoke Choke Croak Smoke choke croak, a catch cry from non smokers, I remember saying it to people around me. Out of my 5 siblings only two of us have not smoked cigarettes, for me the decision not to smoke was made because I remember my mum getting up in the morning and coughing, that awful hacking sound till she then had her first for the day. I swore back then I wouldn’t smoke, unfortunately some of my children have taken up smoking and I despair.
A common response from smokers when challenged about smokers is the refrain is that is “none of your business”, I challenge that. People smoking is a personal decision I agree however where they smoke is a problem. Apart from not wanting to intentionally take in cancer causing chemicals I am allergic to tobacco smoke, my throat tightens and I begin to wheeze and struggle for breath, Asthma in other words.
Recently I had shortage of breath for a different reason, I ended up having to go to Hospital. Not long after I was admitted to the Coronary Care Unit I found myself struggling even more to breathe. I could smell tobacco smoke, how could it be I wondered? Smoke in the hospital I thought it was banned. I asked a nurse what the story was, it is the smokers out the front she said, sure enough one story down there they are puffing on their cancer sticks, the smoke rising and circulating through all of the Coronary Wards and through the public entrance. They know it is banned however they just don’t care, in their minds they are outside how can that harm people?
These people, don’t even try to hide their cigarettes, security comes if they are called and they just amble on and return soon after as if nothing has happened. Even when they gather outside the boundaries of the Hospital they affect me. I have to walk through this dank fug of pollution already aggravating my symptoms, second hand smoke it is so sickening that I have to curb the urge to stub their ciggys out whether they give them up voluntarily or not. Smoking tobacco in the presence of non smokers is just disgusting and dangerous behaviour. Dangerous because it can and does induce asthma attacks. It aggravates the airways of sick people and especially children. It tortures patients who have had to give up for their health as they lie in their hospital beds seriously ill and smell this all around them.
If it were up to me I would dowse smokers who allow their pollution to endanger people’s health with a liberal amount of water, however such an action would be illegal. Instead I think the Hospital needs to make a much firmer stand against smoking on the hospital grounds. If people are caught in breach of the ban they should get one warning and if caught again they are trespassed or fined. A rather punitive system perhaps.
Another idea would be to build a “smokers shack” that has suction fans and filters to stop the tobacco smoke polluting the lungs of patients and staff. In my opinion it is a health and safety problem that unless tackled with vigour could lead to prosecution against the Hospital for failing to keep staff and patients and other visitors safe from a known allergenic cancer causing pollutant. In the meantime I can’t guarantee that I will allow myself to be assaulted by this pollution without resorting perhaps to a water pistol. It is bad enough to be unwell because of sickness, it is intolerable that people are made ill by others who should and do know better.