Nicotine replacements to be given to prisoners, patients

NICOTINE replacements will be provided to addicted hospital patients and prison inmates following a bill banning smoking in many government facilities passing Queensland parliament.

New legislation went through parliament on Wednesday night which will stop all smoking on public and private schools, jails and hospitals and treat electronic cigarettes the same way as traditional cigarettes - with advertising banned and vapourisers to be hidden from sight in stores.

A spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg confirmed the government would direct departments to provide nicotine replacement products following a parliamentary committee recommendation.

During public consultation on the bill the Private Hospital Association of Queensland raised concerns about smokers, especially the elderly or those with mental health problems, leaving hospital grounds to smoke.

Despite the concerns Mr Springborg said defended the ban stating many hospital patients were there due to smoking.

"I just say this: public health facilities are supposed to be a place of health and wellbeing. If we cannot send a very strong message there, we may as well give up," he said.

"We are very open to continuing to work with the community and with other organisations to bring in further restrictions in the future, but there are local governments across Queensland that have powers to do more."

Labor MP Dr Anthony Lynham noted the concerns about smoker patients and said some stakeholders had called for bans to be extended to pedestrian malls, bus and train stops and in the college and university grounds.

"The Labor opposition supports in principle the extension of smoking bans and calls on the government to act on the research evidence for these effective tobacco control strategies. I, too, as a doctor support these measures," he said.

- APN NEWSDESK



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