Hartlepool people are being urged to back a health trust’s campaign to go completely smoke free within weeks.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is planning to be completely smoke free around all of its buildings and grounds by the end of March.
The move will see smoking banned around buildings including the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
Medical director Deepak Dwarakanath said: “With just a few weeks to go, we realise what a huge challenge this will be.
“The main hurdles we need to overcome are around the outside of our two main sites in North Tees and Hartlepool.
“This is about changing the culture and the way people think about how smoking affects other people and their health.
We need smokers to be aware that it isn’t acceptable to have a cigarette on our grounds. We are a place where patients come to get better – allowing people to smoke here completely goes against the care we give to our patientsDeepak Dwarakanath
“The key is to communicate with our staff, patients and public to make them aware of these changes.
“Over the last few months we have been carrying out a considerable amount of work to do just that.”
The Trust wants to provide a clearer, cleaner and healthier environment around its buildings and on its grounds, and has a message for smokers.
Mr Dwarakanath added: “We need smokers to be aware that it isn’t acceptable to have a cigarette on our grounds.
“We are a place where patients come to get better – allowing people to smoke here completely goes against the care we give to our patients.
“We are spreading the message to these people - that we are here to support them.
“We have a very experienced community stop smoking team, who is here to help any smoker wanting to quit.
“We can also offer other help, such as access to nicotine replacement therapy which is very effective in helping people quit.”
Trust chiefs have also been highlighting to staff that they can help by “asking all of their patients if they smoke, and offering smokers help and advice,” said Mr Dwarakanath.
“We are asking for you all to please support us in this. Smoking is the cause of multiple different types of cancers.
“We appreciate people have a choice and have every right to smoke if they wish to. All we are asking is for your co-operation not to smoke on our grounds.”
Any smokers wanting to make the change by quitting can contact the community stop smoking service on (01642) 383819.