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Smoke Free Campus at Local Hospital


Smoking is a harmful and dangerous drug, filled with chemicals that will eventually damage the body, if inhaled continuously. When this happens, you will inevitably be forced to pay your doctor a visit and, in severe cases, for instance in the case of lung cancer being diagnosed or emphysema taking effect, you will need hospitalisation.

When you get to the entrance of St. James Hospital there are signposts and placards that have been put up all over the campus. They read that smoking is prohibited on the hospital grounds and that St. James has been declared a smoking free campus. But it seems that it has not sunk in with many patients and visitors.  All over the hospital grounds you find people smoking and stumping out their cigarettes. With not enough ashtrays for killing these ‘smelly-burning-tobacco- and-filter-filled-papers’, the butts are now ending up in the flowerbeds, underneath the same placards and posters.

There are no seats for the smokers and it looks terrible, when the patients in their pyjamas, are sitting on the kerbs, smoking their cigarettes. If there are no wardens watching and fining those who are breaking the smoking rule, preventing the activity from continuing on the hospital walkways, then the hospital might want to re-consider the removal of the ashtrays and seating arrangements and provide smokers with an alternative. Smoking bays and designated smoking areas are the best answer to this ongoing problem and could create a cleaner environment.

A hospital is a place for recovering, treatment and an environment for saving lives, and this is the reason for declaring the campus a smoke free zone. The idea was to campaign for a more hygienic and healthy environment where illnesses can be controlled. Smoking is very addictive and this is the dilemma. Smokers find it hard to deny themselves a bit of tobacco, especially when they are there waiting overnight, or when they are stressed and concerned patients or family members.

Finding new solutions which could make this smoke free campus work is not easy, but there are options that could help improve the situation and the present problem. At school, we needed prefects to watch and make sure that we didn’t break the school rules and this is what the hospital might have to do – employ smoke-wardens who can patrol and control the campus. The security guards are hardly seen patrolling these ‘new smoke spots’, which are often located in front of the entrances, doors and on the kerbs, where tired smokers have arranged new seating arrangements for themselves. With a little bit of cautioning and encouragement smokers might be persuaded to stump it out.

Posters and billboards of what smoking does to your lungs, heart, arteries, skin, teeth and bloodstream, similar to the pictures on cigarette boxes and tobacco pouches, could make those who are already breaking the rules, rethink the next cigarette. The hospital has recently unveiled the plans for the new Children’s Hospital and need to find a way of controlling this situation, before the construction of the hospital gets underway.

So what’s in a cigarette that makes it so dangerous and undesirable? Research has shown that cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. Most of us would be familiar with chemicals like nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT. Nicotine would be the chemical most people have heard of and often it is presumed that this and tobacco, is all there is to a cigarette. But cigarettes are full of very dangerous chemicals to help it burn, and in order to compete with other tobacco companies, many ingredients are added for flavour.

Nicotine is highly addictive and the reason you crave cigarette after cigarette, when this is inhaled all the way into the lung,it travels to the brain in only six seconds. Therefore, it takes just six seconds to reach the organ that is responsible for keeping the whole body going and instantly starts working its way to every other organ in the body. Nicotine is a poison if not controlled and too much is taken. Tar or carbon monoxide, is another chemical that will eventually reach your lungs, as a sticky mass. It is advised that you don’t smoke the end of your cigarette, because this is the bit that has more tar in it and lots of it in the blood, makes it difficult for oxygen to travel to the rest of the body. The other scary part of smoking is that these chemicals stay in the lungs and the more you smoke the more they accumulate in your lungs.

Recently, an American tobacco company decided to begin listing the ingredients that they were putting in their cigarettes, on their label, at the request of the state of Massachusetts who has asked cigarette makers to disclose their secret ingredients publicly. The company is called Liggett Group Inc. and was one of the first companies to sign these settlements; they are the owners of the L&M brand. The list included: molasses, phenylacetic acid, patchouli, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, natural and artificial liquorice flavour, menthol, artificial milk chocolate and natural flavour, valerian root extract, vanilla extracts, glycerol, propylene glycol, isovaleric acid, hexanoic acid, 5-methylpentanoic acid, and cedar wood oil. Some American cigarettes could have up to 600 different ingredients in them. That’s enough to make you want to reconsider your decision to smoke.

“Liggett believes that adult consumers have a right to full disclosure,” Liggett’s chief, Bennett S. LeBow, said in a statement,” Up to now tobacco companies have kept their trade secrets and only provided the government with the lists of ingredients, to protect their businesses, but consumers fear what they are smoking, and there is a growing demand to know what they are smoking. The tobacco products themselves are not as harmful as the smoke of the tobacco.

Other facts about cigarettes you might not have known:

  • Initially cigarettes were made without filters, to allow for the flavour to be fully experienced.
  • Filters were then added, but caused cigarettes to have a bitter taste.
  • Filters don’t work, in fact it is a gimmick. They can’t remove all the tar and only remove some of it.
  • Chemicals are then added to kill the bitter taste, but some of these chemicals cause cancers.
  • A chemical, similar to rocket fuel, is added to help the cigarette burn at a very high temperature and also turns the nicotine into a vapour.
  • Ammonia is added to cigarettes to help absorb this vapour of nicotine, and enhances the effect of the nicotine that reaches the brain.

The reason people smoke is that they enjoy the moment the nicotine infiltrates their brain and it releases a feeling of euphoria each time you take another puff. When you are outside a hospital and someone you love has just been taken into A&E and you are forced to stay there because of love, friendship and concern for that ill person, you are naturally also stressed and, hours of waiting can lead to hours of boredom. That is when you need a cigarette and that is the time you need somewhere to sit yourself down, with an ashtray and a cigarette. St. James’s might have to rethink the rule and accommodate smokers who come to hospital, unless they start fining and arresting these very worried and addicted smokers. Why don’t we vote on this? Do you think smoking should be permitted on the campus of St James Hospital? Yes or No? Please feel free to leave your vote in the comments box underneath this article.

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