This study explored the effects of a complete smoking ban in a large British teaching hospital on nurses’ smoking behaviour and their attitudes and views on the current policy and compliance with it. Questionnaires were distributed to a convenience sample of nurse smokers and ex-smokers 9 months after the introduction of the smoking ban. A response rate of 64·7% (n=33) was achieved.The reported reduction in work-time cigarette consumption following the ban was not statistically significant (Wilcoxon test: P = 0·069). No reduction outside work was recorded. Six (21·4%) smokers claimed that the ban had been a reason for them to try to give up smoking. Two of three ex-smokers reported that the ban had played a role in their giving up. The respondents showed considerable agreement with their health educator and role model function. Support for the policy was, however, very limited and compliance with it was reported to be poor among patients as well as staff. Twenty (76·9%) of current smokers indicated their wish to give up, 11 (39·3%) of them believed their own determination to be an effective way to achieve this. These results would seem to indicate that smoking policies currently have limited impact on smoking behaviour. It is suggested that in future policies should aim at strengthening nurses’ determination to give up as well as secure their support for the restrictions in order to assist them in changing their smoking behaviour.