Canadian Hospital Smoking Bans Under Fire

MH900382995The common practice at Winnipeg Health Sciences Center and University of Alberta Hospital is non-compliance. Both facilities maintain a campus-wide smoking ban that has been in effect for over three years.

Researchers from the University of Manitoba, University of Alberta and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority decided to look at the consequences. They interviewed patients and held focus groups with staff. The study of continued smoking was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Patient Perspective

– “I was in constant pain, agonizing pain, but I still managed to go for smokes.”- “Still believe people should have the right to choose . . . I don’t think anybody has the right to superimpose their beliefs on other people.”

– “Why should we freeze and get pneumonia . . . or have to stand out here in the rain to have a cigarette? We have much more health risks with that kind of thing than we do from smoking.”

Health Care Provider Perspective

– “When they get back after their smoke, they’re just in so much pain, yelling. And I’m like, well you made it all the way downstairs.”

– “It’s a very big ethical, moral issue for us that we are constantly battling . . . you just can’t take somebody’s rights away.”

Support Staff Perspective
– “They’ll be sitting on a bench that says no smoking right beside it, and they’re smoking.”- “Main entrances — we decided that’s what we would worry about. Anything else, you know, unless it’s a major attraction . . . we’re going to let it slide.”

– “A lot of them are patients with IVs attached, and you tell them there is no smoking on hospital property. Well, then you sometimes see them pushing this IV pole all the way down the sidewalk in the snow.”

You can read more quotes in The Vancouver Sun
Smoking needs to be treated as an addiction and not simply as a bad habit, because when it’s framed as a habit, health-care providers can have a difficult time understanding why anyone facing a serious health issue would continue to smoke.
It all comes down to perspective. For years, smoking has been viewed as a bad habit without considering the true power behind the nicotine addiction. Helping patients is only possible by treating the addiction — and reshaping the views of the masses.

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