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Butt out or face hefty fine

Latrobe City Council local laws staff and officers (left) join council's Acting Manager Healthy Communities, Heather Farley and LRH Director of Corporate Services, Gary Gray in appealing for smokers to heed regulations or be fined.

 

20 January 2016

Victoria’s smoking laws will be actively enforced at Latrobe Regional Hospital from 27 January.

Latrobe City Council local laws officers will begin patrols of hospital entrances to ensure they remain smoke-free for patients, visitors and staff. People caught smoking near the entrances could be fined up to $760.

Smoking has been banned within four metres of entrances to public hospitals, community health centres, schools and other public buildings and areas since April 2015.

However, many smokers are ignoring the laws by continuing to smoke at the entrances to LRH.

Council local laws officers and environmental health officers are now authorised to enforce the regulations.

Latrobe City Council Mayor, Cr Michael Rossiter said from next week, officers will undertake random patrols at LRH to provide information to smokers and where necessary, enforce the bans.

“The first priority of council officers is to ensure smokers understand the ban, however infringement notices will be issued if a person fails to comply with the no smoking direction,” Cr Rossiter said.

“These smoking bans aim to protect the community from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, support people who have quit and those who are trying to quit smoking. The more people see smoking in public places, the more they tend to think smoking is okay, rather than harmful.”

The maximum penalty for someone breaking the smoking law is five penalty units which currently equates to a fine of $760.

In addition to the smoking bans at entrances to the hospital and other buildings on site, LRH has a smoke-free policy which applies to all indoor and outdoor areas within its boundaries.

LRH Director of Corporate Services, Gary Gray said he was frustrated people continued to smoke on site despite clear signage advertising the bans and the hospital’s smoke-free status.

Mr Gray has appealed to smokers to demonstrate empathy to people in the community facing significant health challenges.

“I have been contacted by patients and visitors to the hospital who are upset smokers have no regard for their health and wellbeing,” he said.

“It’s particularly disappointing people are smoking in full view of patients undergoing chemotherapy in the Gippsland Cancer Care Centre. For someone receiving treatment for a life-threatening illness like cancer, it is distressing to look out of the window at people smoking.”

Mr Gray said there have been instances when LRH staff have been abused by smokers when they have attempted to educate them about the smoking bans or smoke-free policy.

“The public expects their local hospital to promote positive health messages. Unfortunately our efforts are being undermined by people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own health,” he said.

 “It’s an individual’s choice to smoke. I’m asking them to smoke outside of the hospital grounds.”

 

Smokefree Policy

We are committed to providing a safe, healthy environment for patients, visitors and staff and as a result, are totally smokefree.

This means that smoking is not permitted in any building or outdoor area within the boundaries of any hospital precinct.

There are no areas designated for smoking.

It is expected that all patients, visitors, staff, contractors and tenants will respect and comply with Latrobe Regional Hospital’s Smokefree Policy by not smoking while at the hospital.

 

Why are we totally Smokefree?

  • The hospital is a workplace and as such the organisation is legally obliged to provide a safe working environment for staff.
  • A smokefree environment encourages and supports smokers in their effort to quit.
  • Passive smoking or breathing in the smoke of others is harmful to the health of non-smokers. It is particularly harmful to children and those who are ill.
  • A smokefree environment will reduce litter and decrease the risk of fire at the hospital.

 

Smoking and surgery

Smoking increases the risks of serious complications during and after surgery.

If you smoke, you are more at risk of:

  • starving your heart of oxygen
  • blood clots forming
  • wound infection
  • slower healing of bones and skin
  • difficulty breathing during and after surgery
  • changes in the effectiveness of drugs

 

These risks can be reduced by quitting for eight or more weeks before surgery.

 

Benefits of quitting

There are many good reasons to quit smoking. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Your sense of smell and taste will improve.
  • Within a month your blood pressure will return to normal.
  • After a year, your risk of dying from heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker and you will save about $3000.
  • After 15 years, your risk of heart attack and stroke is almost the same as that of someone who has never smoked.
  • You will protect your family and friends from the dangers of passive smoking.

 

Help quitting

We understand the difficulties that people experience when they quit smoking. To make it easier for people admitted to our hospital to give up smoking we offer:

  • nicotine replacement therapy (under the supervision of your doctor). NRT helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and comes in different forms such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.
  • counselling and support
  • referral to Quit courses

Support is also available for hospital staff.

There are several qualified leaders who run Quit Courses in the Gippsland region. These courses provide friendly support and encouragement in a small group setting.

To find out when the next course is running in your area, phone the Quitline on 137 848.

 

We advise you consult you doctor before and during the quitting process.

 

Our Heart Appeal continues to raise money for a new local service

Community groups, businesses and individuals have been incredibly generous with donations to our Heart Appeal which is raising money to purchase equipment for our new cardiac catheterisation laboratory to diagnose and treat serious heart conditions.

You can make a difference to the lives of people in our community. Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. Click on the Make A Donation link or contact LRH Fundraising on 5173 8577. Thank you for your support!

Latrobe Regional Hospital

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PO Box 424, Traralgon, Victoria,3844
ABN: 18 128 843 652

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