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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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Hospital's no-smoking policy flouted by both patients and visitors

Having spent over €10,000 earlier this year on no-smoking signs, the sight of smokers remains commonplace on the grounds of Beaumont Hospital.

Beaumont Hospital's entrance sign.
Beaumont Hospital's entrance sign.
Image: Paul Hyland via TheJournal.ie

SMOKING IS STILL commonplace on the campus of Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, despite declaring that it would become a smoke-free site five months ago, TheJournal.ie can reveal.

The change of policy, in July of this year, had involved the erection of numerous signs throughout the hospital and the boarding up of its many gazebos and seating areas which had previously been used by people to smoke in.

The cost to the hospital of last July’s changes – as revealed by a request under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act made by TheJournal.ie – was €11,780, all of which was spent on signage, and “funded from the Hospital’s budget”.

Five months later, however, and pictures by TheJournal.ie (below) show that the no-smoking policy is not being enforced at any great length.

Taken earlier this month, the images below, taken on a single morning at the hospital, show that the ban is being flouted by both patients and visitors.

Having asked a member of staff whether smoking was permitted anywhere on hospital grounds, the response was that it was not, but that people continued to smoke regardless.

At the launch of the no-smoking policy the CEO of Beaumont, Liam Duffy, had said:

As a major health service provider and hospital, it is our obligation to provide a safe environment for our patients, staff and visitors.

This sentiment is still echoed by the speaker system at the main entrance to the hospital, which outputs the two messages that can be heard below.


In the documents released to TheJournal.ie, the costs associated with the closure of the pre-existing smoking areas were not outlined.

However, the FOI response also revealed that seven complaints have been made by members of the public “in relation to these changes and/or their enforcement since 4th July 2012.”

Once again, no further details were provided as to the nature of these complaints.

The hospital’s apparent failure to make good on its incurred expenses comes just over a week after it was found to have the largest overspend in the hospital sector, coming to €20 million at the end of August.

Responding to the findings by TheJournal.ie, the CEO of Beaumont Hospital, Liam Duffy, said:

The hospital’s approach to ending smoking on the campus is to promote and educate staff and visitors and to achieve the ultimate objective by the voluntary actions of smokers. While we can direct staff, we can only request compliance from visitors.
In that context a full elimination of smoking will take time as it is an addiction with which many struggle, despites [sic] its health and social implications.
We are seeking to be proactive in engaging with visitors to point out the inappropriateness of  smoking but we are not currently applying any sanction for a breach.

A spokesperson from ASH Ireland responded by saying that they were “strongly supportive of the smoke free hospital campus programme” and hoped that “all our hospitals will be entirely smoke free by 2015, as is planned.” They went on to say:

Nicotine is extremely addictive and assistance must be provided for smokers, in conjunction with the implementation on [sic] the necessary smoking bans.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has set a target date of 2015 by which they hope to ban smoking on the grounds of health campuses throughout the country.

Hospital's no-smoking policy flouted by both patients and visitors
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  • Beaumont Hospital

    The entrance to the hospital.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    One of the many no-smoking signs throughout the grounds.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    Another sign. This one specifies the date from which the ban came into force.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    Signs also appear on a number of bins.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    One of the many no-smoking signs in the grounds.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    The bin directly outside the pedestrian entrance to the hospital's A & E department.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    A smoker, directing facing the entrance to the hospital's A & E.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    A now-shut gazebo to the right of the hospital's main entrance.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    Two smokers (with the closed gazebo in the background) facing the setdown area which, at the time, was manned by a hospital security guard.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    Another area, just outside the main entrance, where smoking was once allowed.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    A patient, smoking openly outside the reception area of the hospital.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    Another patient just outside the main entrance, who, having first asked a visitor if smoking was allowed, was told that despite the signs saying otherwise, it didn't seem to matter.
  • Beaumont Hospital

    Another now-shut gazebo, where smoking was once allowed.
  • Beaumont Hospital

(All images: Paul Hyland/TheJournal.ie)

Read: HSE reports €404m financial deficit to end of August >

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Paul Hyland

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