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Hospital Smoking Wardens Quit After Abuse From Smokers

July 03, 2013 8:44 AM

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Three hospital smoking wardens have quit their jobs after only a week in post after staggering levels of verbal abuse from hard core smokers.

The wardens were hired as part of the most ambitious drive by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) to stamp out smoking at hospital entrances.

Since its launch the zero tolerance campaign has been successful so far in moving smokers away from our hospital doors but today Director of Public Health, Dr Linda de Caestecker, said: “Despite the early signs of success I am extremely disappointed at the level of verbal abuse that has been spouted at some of our smoking wardens who are there to ask people who are smoking on highly branded no smoking areas to please put out their cigarettes.”

The wardens, who are in place across 11 of our main hospital sites, have all been trained in de-escalation and conflict management techniques and while the vast majority of smokers approached have responded positively to the wardens there have been occasions when they have been screamed at, sworn at and threatened.

Gordon Stewart, Smoking Warden at the Western Infirmary, said: “Whilst the abuse we have received so far has stopped short of actual physical violence it is nonetheless very distressing. However I can already see a reduction in the overall number of people smoking on the hospital site I work on which is really satisfying so I definitely won’t give up.”

Dr Linda de Caestecker added: “Smoking on hospital grounds is quite rightly one of the most complained about issues and we have received overwhelming support from the majority of patients, staff and visitors since launching the campaign. I am therefore very encouraged that even so early into the campaign staff are reporting a marked reduction in smoking on our sites, particularly at hospital entrances. It is however very disappointing that a small hard core of smokers persist and feel it is acceptable to verbally abuse wardens in this way. We will continue to support our wardens and will not give up on ensuring smokers do not light up on our grounds and offer ongoing support for smokers to either quit or manage their smoking whilst on hospitals grounds.”

Over many years NHSGGC has tried a number of tactics to dissuade smokers from lighting up on hospital grounds with limited impact. This new campaign is a determined zero tolerance stance which has seen us rebrand hospital entrances with bright red obtrusive ground hatchings and giant posters creating no smoking zones which are impossible for smokers to ignore supported by the Smokefree wardens to reinforce the message when people are seen breaching our no smoking policy.

The bold campaign to put a stop to the scourge of second hand smoke on our hospital grounds has been widely welcomed by doctors, nurses, patients, visitors and ASH Scotland.


For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]

Notes to Editors

  • The three wardens to have quit their posts are all from the Gartnavel Hospital site which is also home to the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. Replacement wardens are already now in place at the site.
  • While staff on our hospital sites have reported a distinct improvement in smoking rates at our entrances some sites have reported better adherence than others. Wardens have reported that so far patients and visitors at the Western Infirmary, Gartnavel campus and Southern General site have been the most abusive and non-compliant.
  • Across the 11 sites in the first phase of the campaign between the 18th and 23rd of June 1314 people were asked to put out their cigarettes. 395 were patients of that number 32 refused. 25 of those patients to refuse were from the Western Infirmary. Over the same period 761 visitors were asked to put out their cigarettes and 26 refused. 10 of these were from Gartnavel.
  • Smoking rates amongst staff were significantly lower than patients and visitors with 158 staff asked to stop smoking during the same period.

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Last Updated: 06 February 2015