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No surgery for smokers or the obese: Policy in UK stirs debate

• edition.cnn.com By Meera Senthilingam

And one local health committee in the UK has announced a controversial policy "to support patients whose health is at risk from smoking or being very overweight."

For an indefinite amount of time, it plans to ban access to routine, or non-urgent, surgery under the National Health Service until patients "improve their health," the policy states, claiming that "exceptional clinical circumstances (will) be taken into account on a case-by-case basis."

The decision comes from the clinical commissioning group (known as a CCG) for the county of Hertfordshire, which has population of more than 1.1. million.

The time frame for improving health is set at nine months for the obese in particular; those with a body mass index over 40 must reduce the number by 15% over that time period, and those with a BMI over 30 are given a target of 10%.

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The target for smokers is eight weeks or more without a cigarette -- with a breath test to prove it.

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