Published: 02/12/2004, Volume II4, No. 5934 Page 22

We asked the HSJ100 panel: is a smoke-free NHS feasible? If not, why not?

And can the exclusion of mental health from this policy be justified?

Sara Glover, assistant director of finance, Maldon and South Chelmsford primary care trust

A smoke-free NHS is feasible. And it is correct for us as a public service organisation to be setting an example.

Peter Harris, executive director, BMI Chelsfield Park Hospital

Our public health agenda should include smoking cessation as a key priority.

But hospital experiences are stressful enough without imposing additional strains.

Determined smokers will either huddle around the main entrance or smoke in hidden away places that increase the fire risk.

Vanessa Barrett, head of health strategy, Shropshire and Staffordshire strategic health authority

A smoke-free NHS has to be feasible. We must get our own house in order.

There is overwhelming evidence of the damaging impact of second-hand smoke on people's health.

As the largest employer in the country, we cannot afford to ignore the benefits of a smoke-free NHS.

It seems the NHS finds it easier to rely on charities and professional organisations to go into battle on our behalf.

Jackie Henderson, general manager, clinical governance, East Somerset trust

A smoke-free NHS should be the goal, but the difficulty associated with achieving it should not be underestimated.

And why should patients in the mental health setting be treated differently? They should be afforded the same right to public health advice and guidance as anyone else.