WORCESTERSHIRE County Council won’t be following the example of their hospital colleagues in banning smoking among staff – for now.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals’ NHS Trust last week announced a blanket ban on its staff, contractors and volunteers lighting up in the grounds of its three county hospitals.

From 2015, patients and visitors will also be prevented from lighting up on site.

But despite a plea from Councillor Andy Roberts, chairman of the county council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, the council says staff at County Hall can continue to use its smoking shelters for the time being.

“I welcome the news that Worcestershire Acute Hospitals’ NHS Trust aims to be smoke-free by 2015 and Coun Roberts raises a very pertinent point,” said Coun Marcus Hart, the county council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing.

“In my role as cabinet member and as chair of the Worcestershire Tobacco Control Alliance, I am very supportive of any measures that help reduce smoking and which make it no longer the norm.

“The smoking ban in public places in England and Scotland drew attention to the health burden of passive smoking and this has been an important part of improving the health of the UK population.

“Staff at County Hall are currently able to use smoking shelters if they wish and at this time this remains in place. I have raised the issue before and will continue to do it again to see what more the county council can do on its own premises.”

Coun Roberts said it would make sense for the county council to follow suit.

“We – the county council – are now responsible for public health,” he said.

“Now that the hospital has taken this initiative I think the county council should look at itself.”

The NHS Trust said its plan will support its “prevention message” to patients, as they will now be treated by staff not smelling of smoke.

The trust’s decision came at the same time as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) urg-ed the NHS to ban smoking on all hospital grounds across the country.