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Smokers confused over big blue line at hospital

BLURRED LINES: Smokers at Nambour General Hospital were confused about the non-smoking blue line outside the hospital. PHOTO: BRETT WORTMAN
BLURRED LINES: Smokers at Nambour General Hospital were confused about the non-smoking blue line outside the hospital. PHOTO: BRETT WORTMAN

THE line between legally smoking near Nambour General Hospital is big and blue, but a row could be smouldering.

A week into Queensland's tougher smoking laws, which ban smokers from lighting up within five metres of hospital grounds and school gates, some at the hospital may have been inadvertently smoking illegally.

A thick blue line pained on the footpath outside the hospital marks it boundary.

However, smokers did not seem to know they had to be five metres further from it to be smoking legally.

Mooloolah's Tayler Bath said he thought the line marked where people could smoke.

"The blue line's pretty clear, but they need a sign up to explain it," he said.

Tin Can Bay resident Mary Auld, who was at the hospital to visit a friend, also said she was more than happy to comply with the new laws but was unclear about what they entailed.

"The ashtray shouldn't be in that area if you can't smoke here," she said, gesturing to an ashtray within the hospital boundary.

One patient, who went across the road to smoke and did not want to be identified, said it was "bureaucracy gone crazy".

"I used to smoke under that tree," he said, pointing to a tree on hospital grounds.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service's executive director of clinical services Kerrie Hayes clarified the boundary confusion.

"(Smokers) are advised to move beyond the five metre smoke-free buffer if they wish to continue smoking," she said.

"In regard to the Nambour hospital, a painted blue line depicting the hospital boundary is quite visible."

The Queensland Government introduced laws to prevent smoking near schools and hospitals last year, meaning smokers are no longer able to light up within five metres of hospital boundaries and school gates from January 1 this year.

"For an interim period, the main focus for the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service will be on informing people about the changes to the legislation before commencing to issue infringement notices," Ms Hayes said.

"Since January 1, 2015, daily warnings have been

issued to people found smoking in the smoke-free buffer zone at all facilities. No infringement notices have been issued to date."

Ms Hayes said SCHHS Protective Services Officers, who enforced the new smoking legislation, would not redirect people to private areas if they wished to smoke.

A spokeswoman said the ashtrays currently within the boundaries of the Nambour hospital grounds would be removed.

Caloundra and Gympie hospitals will shortly follow with similar markings to Nambour Hospital's blue boundary.

Topics:  editors picks nambour general hospital smoking

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