PATIENTS, staff and visitors will no longer be able to smoke on any Southern Health NHS Trust sites from today onwards.

The move follows recommendations from Public Health England and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which state that all NHS sites should be smoke-free by 2019/20.

Despite smoking rates being at their lowest level since records began (15.5%), smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable death and illness in the UK. For every death caused by smoking, 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease.

Southern Health’s chief medical officer Dr Karl Marlowe explained: “It’s taken lot of preparation with staff and our local partners to get us to the point of becoming a fully smoke-free trust – and we thank everyone involved in getting us to this stage.

"Reducing smoking rates is a vital element of building a healthier society and NHS staff should not ‘facilitate harm’.

"Many people are in hospital because of smoking-related illness, and if they continue to smoke it’s likely they’ll take longer to recover.”

“Importantly, as part of our smoke-free commitment, patients and staff will be given the tools and support they need to help them stop smoking. People who are admitted to our hospitals will have the option to temporarily stop smoking during their stay, or to make a quit attempt with support from a trained member of staff.

"For both options, we will provide nicotine replacement products to help with the cravings for a cigarette, so no-one is forced to experience the effects of nicotine withdrawal.”

Although smoking has previously been prohibited on Southern Health’s hospital sites, discretion has been exercised in the past, allowing limited smoking in some designated outdoor areas.

The trust is now enforcing a 100% ban on smoking on its sites, offering people support to quit smoking rather than encourage unhealthy lifestyle choices.

The ban applies to the following facilities:

• Alton Community Hospital

• Andover War Memorial Hospital

• Antelope House, Southampton

• Avalon House, Winchester

• Bluebird House, Calmore

• Elmleigh, Havant

Fareham Community Hospital

Fordingbridge Hospital

Gosport War Memorial Hospital

Hythe Hospital

• Leigh House, Winchester

Lymington New Forest Hospital

• Melbury Lodge, Winchester

• Moorgreen Hospital, Southampton

• Parklands Hospital, Basingstoke

• Petersfield Community Hospital

• Ravenswood House, Fareham

Romsey Hospital

• Southfield, Calmore

• Western Community Hospital, Southampton

• Woodhaven, Calmore