HEALTH staff have been banned from smoking at all primary health care sites across Kirklees.
The South Huddersfield Primary Care Trust has followed the lead of the Huddersfield Central Primary Care Trust in agreeing to make all of its owned or rented premises smoke-free from April.
The move is a bid to encourage more people to quit the unhealthy habit. The policy - also brought in by the North Kirklees Primary Care Trust this year - comes after the Government set out plans to make all its departments, including the NHS, smoke- free by the end of 2006.
Dr Sohail Bhatti, director of public health for the Huddersfield primary care trusts, said it was important to set an example.
"Staff are viewed as role models for the NHS," he said. "We think that by stopping smoking it sends out a strong signal about how we feel about it. There is also evidence to suggest a smoking ban at work can halve the rate of people smoking.
"By making it more difficult for people to smoke at work it prompts them into thinking about kicking the habit and convinces them that smoking is unacceptable."
Under the new policy, staff at all sites - including offices and some health centres - will be banned from smoking during working hours.
The ban will also stop smoking breaks.
Patients will still be allowed to smoke at some sites - but only in designated areas.
Dr Bhatti said: "We have got a very ad hoc system at the moment.
"Some places have smoking rooms, or areas where people smoke in the back yard.
"Under this new policy it will be unacceptable for any employee to be seen smoking during worktime."