Our hospitals are ‘no smoking’ areas, not just inside in the wards, where you might expect it, but also anywhere within our grounds. There are large signs that say “This is a no smoking site, please leave if you wish to smoke” - but people ignore it and light up wherever. And often the patients, in pyjamas with a drip in their arm, are outside smoking.

We all know that smoking is bad for you, it makes you smell, it’s expensive and it will eventually kill you. But many people find it a comfort and a pleasure. What should a hospital do? It knows and deals with the consequences of smoking. The chances of recovering from major surgery are much reduced if patients smoke. But it is also aware that the hospital is a microcosm of life. People are born in hospital, people get better and people die – all the emotions of life on one site. Different people deal with these emotions in different ways. We have all seen the traditional scene of a new father offering cigars when babies are born. At the other end of the spectrum, when loved ones die, if you’re a smoker then you may smoke as a form of support or comfort at a difficult time. There is another argument from people who don’t smoke or who have given up (usually these people are even more anti) who find smoking abhorrent and insist that somewhere like a hospital should ‘make’ people stop and certainly enforce a smoking ban on hospital premises. So should we ‘police’ the system and constantly prevent people from smoking anywhere on our sites – or should we recognise that smokers are doing nothing illegal and have a right to do so, particularly at times of joy or sadness. What do you think?