THE issue of allowing patients and staff to smoke in hospital grounds provokes strong opinions – for and against.

Up until July 2009 the Royal Bolton Hospital had six smoking shelters to cater for those who wanted a cigarette.

Although smoking in the hospital grounds is prohibited, it is virtually impossible to enforce, as it is not underpinned by the law.

And concerns have been growing as patients, some on drips and in wheelchairs, smoke near the main entrance, to the annoyance of non-smokers visiting or attending the building.

The question – a controversial one among the public and those in the health professions - is: Should the smoking shelters be reintroduced at the hospital?

This would give smokers a controlled area to congregate and take them away from the hospital entrances. But some would argue that the trust might be seen to be condoning smoking if the shelters were reinstated.

Now the hospital trust has teamed up with The Bolton News to ask the public for their opinion.

Simply answer the question below and return the coupon to The Big Hospital Smoking Debate, c/o The Bolton News, The Wellsprings, Victoria Square, Bolton, BL1 1AR by Monday June 17, 2013.

You can also call in and drop the completed coupons off at our office or at the main Royal Bolton Hospital reception.

Alternatively, you can vote YES or NO online here.

Trust bosses have promised they will abide by the result of the vote.