SMOKING will be banned from the entire Royal Bolton Hospital site from July 1 this year, health chiefs have revealed.

Patients, visitors and staff are already prohibited from lighting up in any of the buildings and under canopies at entrances.

But the new rule means they will no longer be allowed to smoke anywhere in the grounds of the hospital. Hospital bosses say they have taken the decision because they want to promote healthier lifestyles.

Dr Jackie Bene, medical director at the hospital, said: “It is a well-known fact that smoking is one of the major causes of many illnesses and diseases.

“As a health-promoting hospital, we want to be at the forefront of preventing illness and a smoking ban is an important part of this.

“Not surprisingly, we get many complaints from visitors and staff who do not want to walk through clouds of smoke to get into the hospital.

“We already do what we can to prevent this and a total site ban will help.”

The hospital banned smoking in its buildings in 2006 and many smokers light up under the canopies in the entrances to the buildings — even though this is against the law.

People have been allowed to smoke around the site, with smoking shelters provided, and staff have specific areas they can use as long as they cover their uniforms.

Anyone smoking in a no-smoking area like the public buildings or under the canopies faces a fine of £200 or a fixed penalty of £50.

However, the new plan could see that extended across the whole hospital site, with anyone wanting to smoke forced to leave the hospital grounds.

The hospital is still working on the detail of how best to police the ban and enforce the new rules.

Members of the public and employees of the hospital who are smokers are being asked to support the ban and prepare for it by giving up smoking.

Dr Bene said: “We know that it is difficult for people to give up but lots of support is available now.

“We are asking staff and members of the public to support this for the good of everyone.”

All hospitals were required by government policy to ban smoking in their buildings by the end of 2006. Many have followed this by extending the ban into their grounds.