Patients caught smoking inside or outside hospitals face being discharged under new government legislation, which will abolish hospital smoking rooms and encourage a total ban in all grounds.

Patients caught smoking inside or outside hospitals face being discharged under new government legislation, which will abolish hospital smoking rooms and encourage a total ban in all grounds.

The controversial "zero tolerance" plans are part of a new Bill, which will make all hospitals smoke-free by the end of 2006. In London, the deadline will be a year earlier, health officials announced last week.

Patients too frail to endure low temperatures outside will be offered "nicotine replacement therapy" in the form of gum and patches. Other measures will include putting up "older person" signs around hospitals for patients crossing busy roads to smoke.

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