If there is one thing in that statement which I would take issue with, it is Mallon’s overly optimistic belief that the new policy is “well-meaning”.
That’s because anyone who has spent any time in an Irish hospital over the last few years will have seen the smoking ban enforced in draconian and nasty ways which are simply punitive and judgmental.
Even those who have been fortunate enough to stay away from hospitals in that time can see the results of such bans.
Drive by the Mater on any rainy day, for instance, and you will see patients huddled together in their dressing gowns, exposed to the elements as they take a break from the drudgery of hospital life. This, apparently, is healthier than allowing the patients an enclosed area – which they used to have – where they could smoke without bothering anyone else and, perhaps, not get soaked to the bone at the same time.
People smoke in hospitals for a variety of reasons, and one which is never considered by the authorities is that it is actually good for their head.
Certainly, when my father spent a few years in and out of James’s hospital with the terminal, non-smoking related disease which would ultimately kill him, he measured the days by increments of when he’d go out for a smoke. It broke the endless monotony of living on a ward and, like many other long-term patients, he was determined to not become a ‘lifer’, one of those lost, institutionalised souls who simply lie in bed all day staring at the ceiling.
One might be forgiven for believing that this is more about sin and repentance than concern for the welfare of the sinners.
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