SMOKERS WATCH OUT: Next time you pay a visit to hospital, you will have to put out your cigarette before you step foot on its grounds.

The three hospitals run by St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust became smoke-free zones on New Year’s Eve.

The ban on smoking, which covers the Trust’s grounds, gardens, car parks and buildings, has been introduced at the sites of St George’s Hospital in Tooting, Bolingbroke Hospital in Wandsworth and the Wolfson Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre in Wimbledon.

Commenting on the ban, the Trust’s Director of Estates, Neal Deans, said:

“The idea of a smoke-free NHS and a total ban on smoking will take a while for people to get used to.

“But we hope the ban will be seen as a constructive and positive way forward to improving the health of our local community.

“So far, patients, visitors and staff seem to have taken heed of the ban and we would like to thank them for their co-operation.”

Smoking was first banned from the hospital’s buildings in 2003 and the scheme has now been extended to include outside spaces such as grounds, gardens and car parks.

The smoking booths that are in the grounds of the hospital are being converted into bicycle racks and a bus shelter.

The total ban on smoking, which was first announced by the hospital in mid-November, came into force on New Year’s Eve as part of a London-wide initiative to stop smoking on all NHS sites.

Doctors at the hospital say the ban has been extended to provide additional protection for non-smokers against the risks associated with passive smoking and to ‘create an environment that is more suited to helping people give up smoking.’

Around 111,000 people die every year from smoking or passive smoking, and the NHS as a whole spends more than ?400m a year treating patients suffering from smoking-related diseases.

As part of the scheme, free counselling is available to patients and staff who want to give up smoking. For more information, call the Wandsworth Stop Smoking Service on 0800 389 7921.