Perth AU Sept 10 2017 Health authorities are conducting a “smoking police” trial at QEII Medical Centre to catch recalcitrant smokers.
The six-month trial, which started in July, involves a dedicated security officer “reminding” smokers that the campus is smoke free.
The site, which includes Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the Perth Children’s Hospital, has come under fire for allowing people to smoke on the grounds, despite WA Health sites being smoke free.
Health Minister Roger Cook vowed to act two months ago, after a man visiting his wife at SCGH complained of having to walk through plumes of smoke at the entrance.
A spokesman for the QEII Medical Centre Trust said it recognised that exposure to second-hand smoke was a health risk and an occupational health and safety issue for staff, patients and visitors.
The dedicated staff member with security qualifications was responsible for educating smokers, as well as undertaking other general duties.
“The emphasis is on engaging with smokers in a polite, encouraging, non-confrontational way,” Mr Cook said.
“It is hoped that through polite, positive, educational engagement with campus visitors who inadvertently light up or disregard no-smoking signage, the trial will result in more informed campus users reducing their smoking activity on the campus.”
It was aimed at reducing exposure to second-hand smoke in common areas and the amount of discarded cigarette butts, and lowering the risk of scrub or grass fires.
The trial would be assessed for its cost-effectiveness.
Australian Medical Association WA president Omar Khorshid said staff and patients at public hospitals had been flaunting no-smoking rules for too long.
“It really is a joke, with people literally smoking while standing under the no-smoking signs,” Dr Khorshid said.
“And while some people might respond to a gentle reminder, without any real enforcement powers you wonder how successful this trial will be and whether it will just create a bit of aggro.
“There is a school of thought that hospitals might be better off providing a space well away from the hospital itself, for those addicted people to go, but of course ideally not patients moving too far away.
“That would give security people a much better option and be less likely to create aggression.”