Unsurprisingly, the BBC splashed this tiny story everywhere they possibly could; devoted their Radio 5 phone-in to it; and - of course - opened up a rare 'Have Your Say' page on their web story as per usual.
The NHS must stop turning a "blind eye" to smoking and ban it in all hospital grounds in England, according to new guidance.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it wanted to see smoking shelters scrapped so patients, visitors and staff could not light up.
Staff should also stop helping patients out of their beds to go for a smoke.
And patients who smoke must be identified and offered help to quit, the guidance added.Sigh.
Now, NICE issue guidance on many things. They have issued 13 items this month alone, only one of which I expect will have crossed the autocue of Nicky Campbell or any other presenter on the BBC. Can you guess which it might be?
So what this boils down to, children, is that you're just not listening to them. The managers at NHS trusts up and down the country have been banning smoking in grassed areas, car parks and sitting on the wall by the main road, but the spurious reasons are so pants that people are not taking any notice. So put your hand out, you naughty boy, the regulator's ruler is to be applied to your smoky palms.
Naturally, by far the most popular comment under the BBC's article was the one which offered the most common sense.
My local hospital has a shelter for smokers. It's 20-30 metres away from the main entrance and off to the side of the car park so no one has to walk past it unless they choose to.
Still people stand just outside the doors but Hospital security are very good at moving people to the smoking shelter.
Perfectly fair way to deal with the issue.
Indeed, this is what Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust found to be the most advantageous solution when they applied to construct 12 shelters back in August.
Mark Trumper, director of development and estate at the NHS trust said it would "continue to discourage smoking" on all of its hospital sites, but had "taken the decision to establish a limited number of smoking shelters for patients and visitors".
He added they would "create a more appropriate environment" around entrance areas where smokers "historically" have caused "a significant problem".But common sense seems alien to NICE, who don't seem to be very nice at all.
[NICE public health director Prof Mike Kelly said] “We need to end the terrible spectacle of people on drips in hospital gowns smoking outside hospital entrances."Yes, it's a disgrace from a 'caring' industry to force them to do so. Bring back smoking rooms and the "terrible spectacle" can indeed end. However, Mike's solution would never consider such a thing, it's not quite nasty enough.
Is the NHS prepared to compound the disgusting treatment of smokers by making them walk even further away from the building for no reason, or by taking away their liberty to do so?
You guessed it. Mike suggests a system of social engineering, coercion and restricting liberties. While you're in hospital contrary to what you'd like to be doing - and most who are there will not be suffering from smoking-related problems - NICE want staff to take that opportunity to nag, cajole and bully you. Even to the point of not assisting you if you decide you'd prefer to ignore their advice and have a smoke.
Hmm, this public sector organisation seems to forget who pays their wages and those of every NHS member of staff in the UK, doesn't it?
A long time ago (it seems) the banning of smoking was all about secondhand smoke. It wasn't restricting your freedoms, oh no, it was about ensuring others are not harmed. Now, though, NICE want you hounded even in wide open carbon monoxide riddled car parks ... for your own good, natch.
OK, that's the rant over with, but now for the comedy.
If you read NICE's full guidance, there are quite a few astounding and often hilarious suggestions. I'll just leave these two here.
"Varenicline and bupropion can be used with caution in people with mental health problems"Varenicline, aka Chantix, because a drug linked to 500 suicides should be fine for them. Nope, can't see anything wrong with that.
Whereas, on the other hand ...
• Encourage people who are already using an unlicensed nicotine-containing product (such as unlicensed electronic cigarettes) to switch to a licensed product [i.e patches and gum].Bwahahahahaha!
It's not about health. Again.