Banned inside, smokers puff away outside Regina hospitals

Smoking is banned in Saskatchewan hospitals, but it's sometimes a different story outside.

Smoking is banned inside Saskatchewan hospitals, but it's sometimes a different story outside.

In Regina, it's common to see people puffing away outside the General and Pasqua hospitals. Patients, staff and visitors sometimes have to make their way through a cloud of smoke to get inside.

And that's something that has to be stopped, the Canadian Cancer Society says.

"By simply allowing people to smoke outside the hospital, it looks bad,"  said Donna Pasiechnik, spokeswoman for the Canadian Cancer Society's Saskatchewan division.

"It undermines the message that we're trying to send to young people that smoking is dangerous … I would hope that very soon they would pass a policy to do the same here."

The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region has no-smoking signs posted outside the hospital doors, but when a CBC reporter went to the General and Pasqua hospitals two days this week, there were a number of people smoking, in some cases right beside the signs. No one was telling them to butt out.

Other health regions have been grappling with the smoking issue. The Prince Albert Health Region plans to ban smoking on all its properties beginning July 1. Saskatoon's health region brought in a similar ban over a year ago.

Allowing smoking on hospital property sends the wrong message, says Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Saskatoon's deputy medical health officer.

"We shouldn't be saying second-hand smoke is bad and yet be allowing smoking on our facilities," Opondo said.

The cancer society recently sponsored a poll that found 85 per cent of people in Regina are in favour of completely butting out on hospital property.

A spokesperson for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region said the smoking policy on hospital grounds is being reviewed.