NEW graffiti-style warnings have been created in an effort to stop patients, visitors and staff flouting a hospital smoking ban.
Colourful artwork has been placed on pavements around Wrexham Maelor Hospital to help persuade people to stub out their smoking habit.
Although there has been a fall in patients, visitors and staff smoking in the grounds and outside entrances to the hospitals since a ban was introduced last year, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board says many people are still ignoring and defying the signs and requests.
The latest figures show 23 per cent of the population of North Wales smoke regularly.
The highest rates are in Wrexham and Anglesey, where 25 per cent of the population smoke.
Andrew Jones, executive director of public health for the health board, said: “We get a number of complaints about the fact that despite clear signs people continue to light up outside hospital doors.
“Visitors and staff often have to walk through a cloud of smoke before entering the building. We do request the public respect the board’s policy of not smoking outside hospital entrances.”
Mr Jones said placing messages on the pavements in areas where people smoke may encourage them to make a fresh start and seek help in quitting from Stop Smoking Wales.
According to the health board, about one in six women in Wales smoke throughout their pregnancy – the highest rate throughout the whole of the UK.
Smoking in pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature births, low birth weights and congenital anomalies in the baby.
Mr Jones also said smoking was responsible for many of the inequalities in health and it was important families help each other to stop smoking, and to reduce the likelihood their children will also grow up to become smokers.
There are 27,700 hospital admissions each year in Wales caused by smoking. More than 9,000 of these can be attributed to each of circulatory disease and respiratory disease, plus more than 7,000 to malignant cancers.
Mr Jones said: “The figures show smoking continues to be the single greatest avoidable cause of death in Wales and a considerable cost to the NHS in Wales. We are committed to ensuring our hospitals are smoke free and people smoking will be requested by our staff to stub it out.”
For help with quitting visit www.stopsmokingwales.com or call 0800 085 2219.