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NHS Highland Board backs Smoke Free Sites Policy

Issued: 4 Sep 2007

Patients coming into NHS Highland hospitals are to be given advice and support to help them stop smoking as part of the Health Board's new policy on tobacco. From the 1st of January 2008 almost all our buildings and grounds will be smoke free sites.

More than 500 people die every year in Highland from disease caused by smoking. Although the region has one of the lowest rates of smoking in Scotland it still accounts for a fifth of all deaths.

Director of Public Health Dr Eric Baijal said: "Stopping smoking saves lives. This policy will ensure every time a smoker comes into hospital it is an opportunity for them to stop. Every time someone stops smoking they reduce their risk of suffering cancer, heart disease and lung disease."

The new policy will be implemented sensitively. Board Nursing Director Heidi May said: "We have looked at what happened in other areas and found that the vast majority of people obey the signs. Patients and visitors tell us they do not like people coming into our hospitals smelling of smoke so I'm confident this will be welcomed by the majority of people."

NHS Highland Board Chair Garry Coutts said: "We want to improve people's health and this policy will help them cut out smoking at least while they are with us. In surveys 70% of smokers say they want to quit and a stay in hospital is an opportunity for us to help them succeed."

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