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Eh? Some sympathy for smokers?

Mention cigarettes and you can count down in less than a minute to the flare of blazing fury that’s sure to follow.

No half measures, no concessions, smokers are society’s pariahs – persona non grata. Their habit is legal, heavily taxed and severely restricted but they might as well be criminals – cocaine addicts receive more respect.

So it was with impressed surprise I learned of Carlisle councillor Elsie Martlew’s response to calls for a ban on smoking outside hospitals last week.

Elsie, deputy leader of the council, fears a heavily-enforced ban will push patients and staff out into neighbouring streets, causing litter problems. She’s calling for a sensitive, common sense approach to the new NICE guidelines, which urge a total ban on all hospital grounds in England.

She argues that hospital patients and visitors are often dealing with difficult news, and being told to stub out their cigarette at a painful time would be insensitive.

“Being a non-smoker I don’t understand what a cigarette craving is like but I know they say it can help at times of anxiety. To enforce this would seem quite heartless,” she said.

“I would prefer to see more focus on helping people to stop smoking, rather than just saying ban it completely.”

I am a smoker – and therefore obviously a pariah – but have always taken the view that smoking in and around a hospital, doctor’s surgery, school or children’s play area would be intensely inappropriate... just not done. In that respect I tend to be at a distance from Elsie’s thoughtful opinion.

But what a refreshing change it is to hear someone speaking gently of people with a legal habit; offering a degree of understanding and sympathetic sense we rarely encounter now – anywhere.

Gentleness. What a lovely change. Not a lot of that about these days.

Have your say

I quit smoking 6 months ago by changing to an advanced personal vaporizer to obtain my nicotine,only for the EU to decide to opt for these devices to become medicinal devices in 2016.My free choice to use a more healthy than tobacco delivery system is going to be so heavily regulated that I will be forced back to tobacco to obtain the same level of nicotine.All because of this incessant crusade against smoking,my e-liquids are not tobacco,contain no tobacco,do not affect others passively,yet are being regulated as a tobacco product.Alcohol causes more misery than my nicotine delivery system,why not regulate that?Oh yes,that doesn't generate anything like the hysteria in the publics eye.I don't drink alcohol,I'm now a non-smoker so I'm not worthy of consideration.Grrrr

Posted by Adam Cherry on 9 January 2014 at 22:06

I'm pretty sure that given the choice of sitting in a smoking shelter safely tucked away in a corner of the hospital grounds that smokers would be quite happy to not block up doorways etc.

Posted by Bev Wallace on 8 January 2014 at 12:03

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