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Belgium: ban fails entrance test
  1. David Simpson
  1. d.simpson{at}

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    Belgians are facing that classic problem after a public places smoking ban: smoke pollution at the entrances of buildings. A particularly unpleasant and inappropriate situation was described recently by a smoking cessation counsellor at one of the country’s top teaching hospitals. Smoke from the many smokers packed into the entrance area at any one time—staff, patients and visitors—and the mass of litter they left behind, was not only denying other staff a smoke-free workplace, but was manifestly unpleasant for the smokers themselves.

    The counsellor suggested that the hospital set up a temporary smoking room, coupled with the offer and provision of cessation counselling for those who used it. Despite a promise that the situation would be remedied—it had been the subject of other complaints—it took adverse publicity in a national newspaper to produce action. The hospital authorities announced a separate area for smokers, though there was no mention of linking this with cessation services.

    Clearly, such a measure must only be an interim stage on the way to a completely smoke-free environment. It illustrates the difficulties that many countries face, especially if there has not been steady preparation over many years, using public information and education campaigns, to create a genuinely smoke-free culture.