Auckland hospital calls for smoking ban


A south Auckland hospital is pleading with people to stop smoking on hospital grounds.

Doctors say it's putting vulnerable patients at risk, but smokers say they have rights.

The signs are quite clear – no smoking – but they're being ignored and Counties Manukau Health has had enough.

"You can't smoke in a restaurant; you can't smoke in a range of public places, and that law people seem to respect, people seem to support, but for some reason within the hospital grounds people think if they walk outside of the hospital it's okay," says director of Hospital Services Phillip Balmer.

One-year-old Atelaite Vaikeli has bronchiolitis. She's spent most of her life in hospital and breathing in second-hand smoke could be detrimental.

Her parents, Meliame and Manako, told Newshub, "We'd like to see the hospital get tough on smokers, because it affects a lot of children and patients with lung problems."

They want people to stop, or be fined.

The smokers say because they're outside and they're not doing any harm.

"I think if they had a designated place to smoke away from the public eye and everyone else who doesn't smoke, they'd be a lot better off. We should be able to have some sort of stress relief. We're in this hospital for a reason, so surely we've got some right," says one hospital smoker.

But doctors say it's putting patients with lung problems at risk.

"These patients are particularly vulnerable when it comes to second-hand smoke and we would like to avoid as much as possible any contact," says public health physician Simon Thornley.

They'll be handing out free nicotine patches and gum in the hope of setting people on the road to a smoke-free lifestyle.