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=ACTION ALERT: SMOKING OUTSIDE HOSPITALS =
The Scottish Government is currently consulting
on the size of no-smoking areas outside hospital buildings, the wording on no-smoking notices and whether specific areas of land or specific buildings should be exempted.
Banning smoking on hospital grounds has been a major area of concern for Forest for several years. Although we understand why the authorities don't want to encourage smoking on NHS sites, we believe that a comprehensive ban – forcing patients (some of whom may be infirm or completely immobile) off site – is unnecessarily harsh and demonstrates a severe lack of compassion for people who may be stressed or at a low ebb.
Last year we published a report, Prejudice and Prohibition: Results of a study of smoking and vaping policies on NHS hospital trusts in England ([link removed]) that called for smoking outside hospital buildings to be permitted with smokers incentivised to smoke away from hospital entrances with the provision of designated smoking areas, clearly signposted.
Although a law establishing no-smoking areas and providing for offences and penalties is already in place in Scotland (unlike England where there is no law on the matter), the current consultation requests views on a number of issues – including the use of e-cigarettes on hospital grounds – so it's not too late to influence the final regulations.
Take the proposed no-smoking notices. By all means advise patients, visitors and staff that 'No smoking areas extend up to 15 metres around affected buildings and include all areas under canopies or other overhangs on those buildings.' Other proposed notices however are more threatening. ('Penalties and fines apply', 'If you observe someone smoking in the no smoking area, a complaint may be made to a member of hospital staff.') Even members of staff are warned of possible prosecution ('It is an offence to smoke or knowingly permit smoking in the no-smoking area outside a hospital building.')
Some people think hospital smoking bans are not worth fighting but we believe otherwise. As our director Simon Clark said last year:
“Threatening to prosecute people for smoking on hospital grounds is not only disproportionate to the offence, it would discriminate against the elderly and the infirm who may find it difficult if not impossible to go off site.
“Hospitals can be stressful places and for some people smoking is a comfort at a difficult time. Patients especially have a right to expect some empathy and compassion.”
The closing date for responses to the consultation is Friday 17th January. (Yes, we thought that might focus your minds!). It should only take a few minutes to respond, although at the time of writing the server is a bit slow. (If you have any problems let us know or email [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .)
Click here ([link removed]) to link to the consultation.
Thank you in advance!
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