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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 06:17 GMT 07:17 UK
Call to ban hospital smoke rooms
Dr Peter Maguire (left) is leading the campaign by doctors
Dr Peter Maguire (left) is leading the campaign by doctors

Smoking rooms in Northern Ireland's hospitals should be closed, the British Medical Association has said.

The deputy chairman of the BMA, Dr Peter Maguire, is leading the campaign by doctors to have the health service declared a smoke-free zone.

The County Down hospital consultant has said it is time to call a halt to the practice in every workplace.

"It is hard to believe that our hospitals are one of the easiest places to have a smoke," he said.

Most large employers provide a smoking room - but from next year there will not be any in Northern Ireland civil service buildings.

Smoking is to be banned in all Northern Ireland government departments from January 2005.

The NIO said it was protecting staff from the dangers of passive smoking.

The ban will see smoking facilities removed and staff forbidden to light up on site. Prisons will be exempt from the ban.

The Civil Service in Northern Ireland has had a formal policy on smoking in the workplace since 1987.

This was revised in 1994, when the decision was taken that smoking would no longer be permitted in premises occupied by staff, except in designated smoking rooms or areas.

In Belfast, the Royal Victoria Hospital has spent 500,000 building smoking rooms indoors to stop people gathering at its entrances.

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