SMOKING has been completely banned on two hospital sites in the region in a bid to encourage patients, visitors and NHS staff to quit the habit.

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STHFT), which runs both the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, will ban smoking across their grounds from April 1.

Smokers will be prohibited from lighting up at Trust buildings, wards, vehicles and grounds.

Kevin Oxley, director of estates, ICT and health care records at STHFT, said: “We have pledged to go completely smoke-free across our hospital sites from April 1, 2019, to help improve and protect the health of our patients, staff and visitors.

“As part of our smoke-free commitment, patients and staff will be given the tools and support they need to help them stop smoking.

“For example nicotine replacement therapy is now available on all of our wards and smoke-free training is available to all staff.

“We’re proud to be taking this step and are actively encouraging staff to start conversations about smoking with patients and to signpost them to local stop smoking support services where appropriate.”

Mr Oxley confirmed the use of e-cigarettes will still be permitted in designated areas from April 1.

He added: “We want people to understand that there is no smoking allowed anywhere on our hospital sites, including the grounds.

“If anyone is seen smoking on our premises, our staff have the right to respectfully request for them to stop and extinguish their cigarette. If problems persist staff can call security for support if required.

“We know that many people are giving up smoking by switching to e-cigarettes and these have been proven to be an effective way of helping people to quit smoking completely.

“As e-cigarettes do not expose others to second hand smoke and offer a less harmful alternative to smoking their use will be permitted within designated areas of our grounds from April 1.”