New hospital smoking ban off to a hazy start in Regina

A smoking ban which was supposed to take effect Wednesday on all hospital property in Regina is experiencing something of a relapse.

Health region unable to go cold turkey as people still lighting up on property

A smoking ban was supposed to take effect Wednesday at hospitals in Regina. ((CBC))
A smoking ban that was supposed to take effect Wednesday on all hospital property in Regina is experiencing something of a relapse.

A year ago, the regional health authority announced it would ban smoking on its premises, starting April 1, 2009.

However, a visit to Regina General Hospital on Wednesday by CBC News revealed that smokers could still light up on the grounds. They had been moved, however, from huddling around entrances. Plastic yellow tape served to demarcate smoking and non-smoking hospital zones.

The Canadian Cancer Society disapproved.

"It's a hospital, good grief. I hope this is an April Fool's joke," Andrew Caswell, a spokesperson for the society in Saskatchewan, told CBC News. "We understood that a smoking ban meant a ban on all... property."

Andrew Caswell, spokesperson for the Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Cancer Society, wants a ban on smoking on all health region property. ((CBC))
Pointing to a group of smokers, Caswell added: "Clearly that's smoking on the property. So [we're] very disappointed."

Officials from the Regina Qu’Appelle Regional Health Authority told CBC News that they would be reviewing their smoking policies.

"It's going to be a work in progress over the next year," Michael Redenbach, vice-president for primary health with the region, told CBC News.  "We are going to be evaluating our policy and reviewing it to see what's working and what's not working."

Michael Redenbach, a vice-president for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Authority, says the current smoking ban is a work in progress. ((CBC))
Some smokers at the hospital told CBC News they were prepared to move as far as necessary to enjoy their cigarettes.

"Right off the premises, if that's what you have to do," Robert Bernard said. "I think it's better for the patients and the people coming and going."

Others felt they had moved far enough.

"Right about here is fine," Andy Bellegarde said of the current setup. "I don't know why we would have to go all the way out of the hospital to have a cigarette."

Caswell said his organization will contact the health region to discuss the status of the smoking ban. The cancer society will press for an outright ban that prohibits smoking on any part of hospital property, he said.