Hospital should provide smoking rooms, court told

A lawyer who described a smoking ban at health facilities in west Auckland and North Shore as cruel and torturous has told a court hospitals need dedicated smoking rooms.

Smoking has been banned on all Waitemata District Health Board sites since 2009.

Two former psychiatric patients and a retired nurse are challenging the ban in the DHB's mental health units.

Their lawyer, Richard Francois, told the High Court in Auckland on Monday that some psychiatric patients are refusing care because they can't smoke - which he says shows that the ban is cruel and nothing short of torture.

He said psychiatric patients are prone to being smokers and research shows the majority go back to cigarettes once they are discharged.

Mr Francois said the Smokefree Environment Act does allow smoking in some circumstances on government property, but the DHB is taking the ban to the extreme.

He said the ideal outcome would be for dedicated smoking rooms to be placed in all hospitals.

The DHB is yet to begin its defence, but has said the ban protects the health of staff and patients.

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