A SMOKER of 60 years has warned Airedale Hospital it will not win its quest to become a smoke-free site.

Speaking at the Steeton hospital's patient and public involvement forum, Dawn Turtle, 73, said the hospital could not choose who it cared about and asked how the blanket ban was going to be policed.

Human resources director Roger Pollard explained the reasons behind the ban, which will be implemented on Wednesday March 8.

He said as a health organisation, the hospital had a responsibility to set an example and should be encouraging people to stop smoking.

He also said the hospital wanted to provide a better environment for non-smokers.

He added: "We do recognise the difficulty that introducing the ban presents and a campaign to support staff has been introduced over the last few months - supporting them through 'quit smoking' sessions.

"One crucial issue is that we will stop smoking within the grounds. This is for two reasons, predominantly to highlight the dangers of smoking and to say it's important as an organisation that we don't have smoking anywhere.

"It also creates a mess and smoke seeps into the buildings. It's not very nice for people who don't smoke to have to walk past those who do at the entrance of buildings. Society is changing and there has been a bit of a shift towards smoke free activity."

When asked if there would be any exceptions, Mr Pollard replied: "At the moment, no. But the matrons meet together every week and we will need to look at that."

Mrs Turtle said she could not believe it when she heard about the ban.

She said: "You can't smoke on trains and planes. You are not acceptable anywhere with a cigarette but we don't want to be told that by the one organisation that's supposed to care about us.

"I don't know how you're going to police it. What are you going to do to your staff? Have you thought about how they feel? They need a fag or they wouldn't be having one."

Mrs Turtle admitted she had smoked since she was 13 and would not wish the habit on anyone.

And she said she had been about to offer to volunteer at the hospital, but "you have lost my support". "People will just gather at the top of the road," she warned.

Hilary Browne, co-chairman of the forum, said although the committee had listened to Mrs Turtle, it was not in a position to do anything about the ban as it was the hospital's policy.

However, she said the forum could help to ensure that appropriate treatment was available for smokers.