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Townsville surgeon wants health providers enforce smoking laws

OLIVIA GRACE-CURRAN, Townsville Bulletin

March 20, 2018 12:00am

SMOKERS are being urged to consider others and heed signs discouraging smoking near public and private health facilities.

Smoking is prohibited within 5m of all public and private health facilities in Queensland.

A Townsville orthopaedic surgeon is hoping local health providers consider driving an initiative to enforce the $252.30 fine on those breaching the laws.

Dr Kaushik Hazratwala posted a response from the Townsville Hospital on Facebook after he complained about people smoking outside the hospital.

“The Townsville Hospital and Health Service remain committed to both the active promotion of the‘Quit smoking ... for life’ campaign and the provision of program support to patients and staff who are ready to quit smoking,” a letter addressed to him read.

Dr Hazratwala said it was sad that the hospital was unable to enforce the no-smoking rule but he was disappointed at those people who were blatantly ignoring the signage.

“Patients and patrons alike simply ignore the signs and nothing can be done about it,” Dr Hazratwala wrote.

He believes society is not afraid of authority and smokers will only follow protocol when policies are correctly implemented at both public and private health facilities.

“It’s about the system and society being considerate of others when there is a law that says you’re not supposed to smoke, society is to blame,” Dr Hazratwala said.

Acting Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said the hospital employed two security officers to conduct foot patrols of the hospital grounds

“A component of this work is educating the public about not smoking on hospital grounds,” Mr Keyes said.

The Townsville HHS strongly discouraged patients from smoking.

“The Townsville Hospital offers significant support to staff and patients to quit smoking. However, this is something that people need to be willing to do,” Mr Keyes said.

“For patients particularly, receiving care in the hospital can be extremely taxing and stressful and smoking can often be a familiar and learned coping mechanism.”

According to Queensland Health tobacco laws, a person caught smoking at a health facility and a person smoking on land within the 5m beyond the boundary of the health facility can be fined two penalty units or $252.30.

Failure of a person to stop smoking at a health facility or on land within 5m beyond the boundary of the health facility, when directed to do so by an authorised person, faces the same penalties.

“The Townsville HHS has not issued a fine for smoking at the Townsville Hospital with the focus being on education ahead of enforcement,” Mr Keyes said. Read More

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