BARNSLEY Hospital will smoke-free across its entire site by the end of this month in a bid to reduce prevalence across the town following schemes started by the council and schools.

The hospital will support everybody who smokes to stop – including its staff – and create a hospital free from tobacco and smoking.

No-one in the hospital will be exposed to second-hand smoke or cigarette litter and all patients, staff and visitors to the hospital will be asked not to smoke on or around the site and new signs will make this very clear.

Chief executive Dr Richard Jenkins said: “We’re asking for support from the public, our patients and staff in order to go completely smoke-free by the end of this month.

“We know that smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable death, disability and illness, and it is therefore appropriate that we keep the hospital site smoke-free and ask people not to smoke on site.

“One in two smokers die prematurely due to their smoking and while they are in hospital we have support to help them to break their addiction.

“This is about improving people’s health in the same way we are committed to doing across all causes of disease – it is very positive and will save lives.”

All smokers who are admitted as patients will be advised that the site is smoke-free and as part of their hospital care and treatment they will be offered nicotine replacement therapy and referred to local stop smoking services.

Dr Jenkins added: “This is more than just having a smoke-free site for patients and staff. For the first time we will see a cultural shift in the hospital’s role in proactively supporting patients to quit smoking.

“Research shows that up to 25 per cent of patients in our hospitals smoke and they actually expect health professionals to raise the issue with them. Supporting them with nicotine replacement medication means they are much more likely to quit for good.”

Smoking prevalence across Barnsley was at 21.2 per cent early last year, which equated to more than 52,000 smokers in the town or more than one in five people, although latest figures suggest that that percentage has dropped to 18.2 per cent following a council-led initiative.