Saturday, March 16, 2013

Smoking in hospitals----another smokescreen?


What’s he on about now you may be saying. Yeah, you are right; my header is just a smokescreen to launch a quite different slant on the smoking debate. It is related to a report today that some of New Zealand’s largest hospitals are considering asking prospective employees whether they are smokers. One can only assume that they will take this into account when they make a decision about employing those people who admit to smoking.

The hackles are up amongst not just smokers, but others who use this as a reason to question the legality of the move and the issue around human rights. We have all heard the debates over the years about the right of those who don’t smoke to have access to clean smoke-free air. We have also seen hospitals slowly make their domains smoke-free. This latest proposition just goes the final step.

Should people who work in the health system be subject to be exclusion from employment if they smoke? Does it affect their job performance? Should they present as examples of good health, simply because they work in the health system? Surely that would be tantamount to saying that all teachers should not drink, smoke or engage in other health or morally ‘questionable’ activities.

In other words, where do we draw the lines? We must be consistent. I far prefer the other strategies related to lowering the number smokers in society. Taxing the products and continuing education thrusts, for the most part is achieving the overall gaol, slowly but most definitely. Yes’ there are some groups in New Zealand where such progress is slow, but some of them may eventually be forced to stop, because the costs related to smoking are becoming so high.

One final point must be made. If one was asked whether they smoked, would they not say ‘no,’ and then carry on as usual, well away from their pace of work? Would they then possibly live in fear that a workmate or employer might see them outside a local café, happily smoking away? Maybe that fear will have the flow-on effect of chasing these pesky smokers away from cafes too, leaving the rest of us to enjoy clean air and having to go inside the café on hot days in order to escape our tormentors. Oops. Sorry, I k now have just offended many people I know. Yes, I do suffer from your damn smoke as it drift across from where you are sitting, Damn it, you don’t even try to figure out which way the wind is blowing. There I have had my vent on that subject.

As for the hospital banning---get real, those in position to make this decision.