Clampdown on hospital smoking


Sir, – I have never smoked, but as a retired hospital doctor I am horrified by the primitive savagery of the HSE’s new edict forbidding smoking anywhere within the boundaries of a hospital in the Republic.

The HSE seems unaware that addiction to a drug alters brain receptors so that the sufferer is left with an insatiable desire for more. Renouncing such a drug is far more difficult than giving up chocolate for Lent.

The habitual smoker is an addict who in hospital needs the comfort of smoking to cope with an already gruelling experience. Its deliberate deprivation is an act of wanton, indeed wicked cruelty at a time when he or she is most in need of cherishing and comforting.

I have looked in dismay at the degradation heaped on smokers in our hospitals in recent years. Forced to huddle under an outdoor lean-to roof for a drag on a desperately needed cigarette, often with intravenous drips in their arms and frequently wearing only pyjamas and a dressing gown on a cold, wet day, now even this solace is to be denied to them.

Lepers in the dark ages received greater care and more love than our enlightened age allows to the poor, old, ill smoker.

If Minister for Health Dr James Reilly is worth his salt, he will overturn this appalling ruling immediately. Indeed he will go further and require hospitals to provide safe, warm and properly ventilated indoor smoking rooms for those sufferers who need them.

After all, even smokers are still our sisters and brothers. – Yours, etc,