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Canterbury DHB To Go Smokefree Later This Year

Canterbury DHB To Go Smokefree Later This Year

31 May 2004

The Canterbury District Health Board will join the other DHBs in New Zealand later this year when its facilities start to become smoke free zones.

Making the formal annoucement, the Chief Executive Jean O’Callaghan said the DHB must take the lead in discouraging the community from smoking.

‘From October 31, our staff, visitors, outpatients and clients will not be permitted to smoke on our premises. We will be encouraging all patients not to smoke while on our premises as well. To make sure we get the best possible outcome from the introduction of this policy, we will be making the changes gradually. Designated areas will be available for patients for the first 12 months.’

‘We want this policy to succeed, and will therefore be working with staff groups in the coming months to look at smoking cessation programmes to help any staff who want to stop smoking. Also more efficient referral systems will be introduced for any patients who express a desire to give up smoking.’

Mrs O’Callaghan said smoking is a major health issue. The statistics make ‘grim’ reading.

Tobacco kills about 4,700 New Zealanders every year and it is the cause of one in four of all cancer deaths.

‘When you smoke you inhale more than 4000 chemicals including acetone (paint stripper), ammonia (toilet cleaner), cyanide (rat killer), DDT (insecticide) and carbon monoxide (car exhaust fumes,’ she said.

Smoking is also a major cause of blindness, with about 1300 people in New Zealand having untreatable blindness due to current and past smoking.

‘Our hospitals have been designated smoke free for some time, and if patients and visitors want to smoke they must do so outside. This is the first time we are introducing a policy that will affect everyone on site.’

Mrs O’Callaghan said staff had been working on the project for ten months now, exploring the best ways of implementing the policy to ensure its success. The policy had already been introduced in several District Health Boards’ facilities.

‘We are making our announcement today, on World Smoke Free Day, to give the public and our staff plenty of advance notice. Over the next few months we will be developing information and education material to distribute well ahead of the 31 October start time.

ENDS

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