The anti-smoking plans of the hospital have not been made public yet; the hospital's board has already approved the plans, but the Client Council and the Committee on Medical Ethics (cliëntenraad en de Commissie Medisch-Ethische Aangelegenheden) are currently perusing them. The package of measures is extensive. All smoking areas inside and outside the building will be abolished, but at the same time information and help will be offered to smokers who want to stop smoking. There is also an option to provide smokers with a reward in the future, as was previously tested in the Maastricht Catch study.
The UM endorses the hospital's measures, even where it concerns making the Health Campus a non-smoking area in 2021. The inner city faculties will follow at a later stage, says President of Maastricht University, Martin Paul. “We can gain experience in Randwijck with creating awareness, providing information and giving support with attempts to quit smoking. We don't want the problem to relocate. That smokers work at home more often, and maybe have young children become victims of passive smoking. Nor do we want students and employees smoking on the sly.”
The UM does not hold main responsibility for the health of its employees and students, says Paul. “This isn't North Korea, but I do see it as our responsibility to show people the risks of unhealthy behaviour and to help them rid themselves of their addiction. All research shows that quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to improve your health.”
To say that the university is merely going along with the hospital's plans, is not entirely fair, says Paul. “The plans came about through the aid of our researchers' expertise. But it is true that the hospital did take the initiative.”
Just how complex the anti-smoking campaign is, Paul experienced in Berlin, as dean of the medical faculty at the Charité hospital. “Ten years ago, Charité had a problem with patients who went outside with their drips to smoke in front of the building. Sometimes after they have just had a leg amputation. It soon became obvious that measures were needed on all fronts. Setting up non-smoking zones, providing information, no more cigarettes on sale in the kiosk. A ban by itself doesn't work.”