I FEEL I have to write in reply to comments made by Michael Coles (Hospital should be smoke free) in Wednesday’s Hunts Post.
Let me start with the first statement made by Mr Coles and I quote: "We have a choice about these things whether we want to smoke or not", which in a supposedly free society we certainly do.
I disagree with his second statement that he is forced to walk through and breathe second-hand cigarette smoke. If you have ever stood outside the hospital on any day, the likelihood of more than two people smoking at any one time is remote to say the least and the breeze that blows constantly around that area would very soon dissipate any lingering smoke, so I would suggest that the chance of him breathing in second-hand cigarette smoke is virtually nil.
He also goes on to say that smoking should be banned in the entire area, which once again penalises certain members of the public because they are smokers. I wonder if he would be so keen if a ban was put on drinking tea or coffee in the entire area or eating a snack outside instead of sitting inside.
Without being rude, people like Mr Coles make me sick, jumping on their soap boxes simply because they are non-smokers. Does he not think that as smokers we are penalised enough in this so-called free society, and that part of the money we pay in tax on cigarettes goes towards the hospital that he is visiting?
I have been a smoker for more years than I care to remember (a totally childish attitude I know) but the main reason that I will not give up smoking is that I am fed up to my back teeth of being penalised for being a smoker and do-gooders telling me that I should give it up.
I consider myself a fairly intelligent individual and please don't feel that I am condoning smoking in any way shape or form, I just get really irate when people like Mr Coles start spouting off about how this should be done and that should be done to discourage smoking. Would he be so keen if he was made to sit outside to have a cup of coffee whilst smokers could sit in the canteen? I think not.
I have to say in the defence of smokers that the facilities provided by the hospital are not the most salubrious I have ever seen. Once again as smokers we are penalised by being made to stand in a draughty bus shelter with nowhere to sit whilst there is a nice comfortable warm canteen for Mr Coles to sit in.
As far as I am aware Hinchingbrooke Hospital is for members of the public, which consists of smokers and non-smokers and to be perfectly honest smokers get the raw end of the deal. If we are visiting a relative in hospital we cannot sit in a comfortable chair and have a cup of tea or coffee and have a cigarette.
We have to go outside, possibly in the rain, to have our teas and coffee on a bench seat that for most people is too high to sit on anyway. Once again we are being treated like second class citizens because we choose to smoke.
Mr Coles really needs to realise that if you speak to most smokers they will say they wish they had never started, but it is not as easy to stop as some people think. Unfortunately for us smokers, this means that we are going to be penalised at every opportunity.
Normally I would let something like this go over my head but I spend a lot of time at the hospital, both for myself and my wife, and I object most strongly to being told when and where I can have a cigarette.
Out of respect I would not of course light up a cigarette inside the hospital as I have more manners than to do that, but to be told that I cannot smoke anywhere within the hospital complex I believe would create uproar even with a few non-smokers.