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Plans for no smoking zone around children's hospital criticised by campaigners

Mon 26th September, 2016

Proposals to make the streets around Birmingham Children's Hospital a smoke free zone have been criticised by campaigners.
 
Responding to an online consultation that closes on Monday 26th September, the smokers' group Forest said the proposals were "extremely petty". 
 
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:
 
"The trust is looking for a problem that doesn't exist. Smoking in the open air doesn't harm anyone other, perhaps, than the smoker, and the idea that children must be protected from the sight of people lighting up is Orwellian.
 
"I understand why they don't want people smoking around the main entrance but extending the ban to nearby streets is extremely petty.
 
"Imagine if you smoke and you're the worried parent of a sick child in hospital. Why should you be admonished or made to feel like a leper if you choose to relieve some of the stress by lighting up in a nearby street? What harm are you doing anyone?
 
"The NHS deserves better than to be run by bureaucrats who waste their time and our money coming up with schemes like this."
 
Forest also criticised the consultation. According to Clark:
 
"If you're opposed to a no smoking zone it's impossible to answer some of the questions because the only options respondents are given concern the extent of the zone or where signage should be placed.
 
"if you don't answer certain questions, because there's no option you agree with, you can't proceed with the survey and you can't submit your response."
 
Clark also criticised the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the survey.
 
"Why would the NHS even consider prohibiting the use of a product used by many people to quit smoking?
 
"The inclusion of e-cigarettes in the consultation demonstrates that this policy isn't about health at all. It's about control. The hospital trust wants to dictate how we behave even when we're not on hospital property."
 
Some of the strongest comments were posted on Forest's Facebook page. They included:
 
"Massive intrusion on people's rights."
 
"Right near a major road and the concern is about a bit of smoke? You couldn't make this up."
 
"What a stupid idea and near a major road anyway."
 
"They would be better off putting their efforts into sorting out the lack of parking for stressed out and worried parents."
 
Rob Lyons, campaigns manager for Forest's sister campaign Action on Consumer Choice, said:
 
"As a born-and-bred Brummie who used to work close to Birmingham Children's Hospital I think this is a stupid and illiberal idea, designed by anti-smoking obsessives to colonise our streets. 
 
"If air pollution is really such a problem perhaps the authorities should consider moving the hospital away from heavy traffic on the Queensway and the Aston Expressway. 
 
"In reality this is a fabricated problem designed to demonise smokers even more than they already are."

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