The majority of respondents to a Scottish Government consultation on banning smoking near hospital buildings support a 15-metre enforcement zone to protect people from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
A total of 559 people or organisations commented on the possible introduction of a legally-enforceable no-smoking area around hospital buildings and 72% agreed that 15 metres was a suitable distance.
Last year, the Scottish Parliament passed the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Act 2016 amended sections of the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (“the 2005 Act”) to provide for offences to be introduced in respect of smoking around hospital buildings.
However, before penalties can be imposed, secondary legislation is needed on three technical matters which the consultation sought views on:
the distance which will form the perimeter of the no-smoking areas outside a hospital building
the wording of no-smoking notices and how they’re displayed
whether there are any specific areas of land or buildings on hospital grounds where there is no need for a no- smoking area
Following the publication of the consultation results, the Scottish Government will publish a paper within 12 weeks outlining how the findings will be taken forward and the timeframe for doing so.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:
“Our hospitals need to be seen as accessible, open places which promote good health and lifestyle choices. Every aspect of life there should reflect that.
“This consultation asked questions on technical details which will allow regulations which are already agreed to come into force, extending the existing indoor smoking ban to a set distance outside hospital buildings.
“Smoking remains the most significant cause of ill health in Scotland - leading to up to 100,000 hospitalisations per year and more than 9,000 premature deaths and I believe the enforcement of no-smoking areas will help us cut those numbers.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP, Joint Convenor of the Cross Party Group, Scotland’s Health; 2021 and Beyond commented:
“Having instigated and put forward the Regulation of Smoking Bill in 2002, it pleases me to see how far Scotland has come in its attitude towards smoking.
“While it was once considered acceptable to smoke anywhere and everywhere, education and health statistics have made people question themselves and we continue to make progress in the denormalisation of smoking which killed 9,332 people in Scotland in 2018.
“The last thing most people coming in and out of a hospital want to see or be confronted with is smoke. We have come a long way with the hospital smoking ban and this next step in the ability to enforce it, will help further denormalise smoking in public places.”